Short Life of
Saint Charles

saint Charles was born John Andrew Houben on the 11th December 1821 in the village of Munstergeleen, Holland. He was the fourth of a family of eleven children born to Peter and Johanna Houben. The family background was simple and Catholic with prayers morning and evening and children taught the Rosary. They worked in a flour mill owned by their uncle.

John Andrew's childhood was nothing exceptional. He was shy, quiet, pious, friendly and "always bright and cheerful in the family circle", according to his brother. Even though he found study difficult, he walked the two miles into secondary school in Sittard for ten years. He wanted to be a priest and served Mass and visited the Church every day.

At nineteen, Andrew was enrolled for military service from 1840 to 1845 but only saw active service for three months. He was not an outstanding soldier. He spent too much time in Church! While in the army, he first heard of the Passionists and from that moment he decided to join them.

On returning home he worked in the mill by day and continued to study but this time with greater ease. Troubles came, first with the death of his uncle, who had taken a special interest in the family and then in 1844 his mother died at 52 years of age. With his military service completed in 1845 Andrew, despite the initial reluctance of his father, joined the Passionists at Ere, near Tournai, Belguim. As a student he was remembered as cheerful and good-humoured and was ordained on Saturday December 21st 1850 in Tournai. His father had died in August of that year and none of the family could make the journey for the celebrations.

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Favours from Saint Charles during his life.

Favour through his intercession after his death.