NEW BLESSEDS FOR THE CHURCH
Every 8th day of May has been set aside as the Feast day for the 19 martyrs of Algeria who have just been beatified on December 8 at the Basilica of Santa de la Cruz, Oran Algeria by Cardinal Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes.
In a message which was read after the Beatification Mass presided over by the Cardinal, Pope Francis said:
“The lives of these19 religious men and women martyred during the Algerian civil war are a testament to God’s plan of love and peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims”.
Pope Francis said it was a time for Catholics in Algeria and around the world to celebrate the martyrs’ commitment to peace, but it was also a time to remember the sacrifices made by all Algerians during the bloody war.
Both Christians and Muslims in Algeria “have been victims of the same violence for having lived, with faithfulness and respect for each other, their duties as believers and citizens in this blessed land. It is for them, too, that we pray and express our grateful tribute,” the pope said.
Pope Francis said that all Algerians are heirs of the great message of love that began with St. Augustine of Hippo and continued with the martyred religious men and women “at a time when all people are seeking to advance their aspiration to live together in peace.”
“By beautifying our 19 brothers and sisters, the church wishes to bear witness to her desire to continue to work for dialogue, harmony and friendship,” the pope said.
Among those who were beatified were Blessed Christian de Cherge and six of his fellow Trappists — Fathers Christophe Lebreton, Bruno Lemarchand and Celestin Ringeard as well as Brothers Luc Dochier, Michel Fleury and Paul Favre-Miville — who were murdered in 1996 by members of the Armed Islamic Group in Tibhirine, Algeria.
Their life and deaths were the subjects of the movie “Of Gods and Men,” which won the grand prize at its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010.
Several months after their deaths, Blessed Pierre Claverie, bishop of Oran, was assassinated along with his driver by an explosive device. According to the website of the Dominican Order of Preachers, his death was mourned also by Muslims who considered him “their bishop.”
Members of the Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) family who were present in Algeria for the beatification shared their thoughts:
According to Marc Fromager, Director of ACN France, “It was a splendid day, quite extraordinary actually for the Church here to have been able to organize something like this, considering the local environment.”
Rafael D’Aqui who is responsible for Projects at the ACN International Office in Germany said,
“We had a very impressive celebration with a huge number of Algerian authorities and a great number of Imams. Before communion, the Archbishop of Algeria stepped down the altar to give the peace and to shake hands with many authorities and imams present at the ceremony animated by a young choir of students of sub-Saharan countries”
“The most touching moment was for me the Hallelujah sung by the African Choir during the revelation of the images and names of the martyrs after the official proclamation of their status of Blessed by Cardinal Becciu,” he said.
ACN (Malta) has published a book entitled “Witnesses of Faith”, about the life and story of these 19 martyrs of Algeria who have just been beatified.
To request copies of the book, please contact us on 21487818 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org