The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - November 17

The pope greeted a group of African desert nomads in St Peter's Basilica on Sunday as he recalled the "universal brotherhood" of all the peoples of the world. The ten visitors dressed in blue and white robes and turbans were Tuareg, a Berber people which traditionally wanders the Sahara Desert. Tuareg are mostly Muslim. They were in the Vatican to pay tribute to Charles De Foucauld, a French Catholic missionary who lived among their people in the early years of the 20th century.

De Foucauld, who learned the Tuareg language and translated many of their poems, was beatified on Sunday at a solemn ceremony in the Vatican. Beatification earns a person the title 'blessed' and puts him or her on the penultimate rung of the ladder to sainthood.

Benedict, who arrived in the basilica at the end of the beatification ceremony, greeted each of the Tuareg visitors individually. One of them kissed his hand. The pope said De Foucauld's years spent with the Tuareg people were a demonstration of the "universal brotherhood" of all human beings.