19 murdered religious to be beatified


The 19 Catholic religious assassinated in Algeria in the 1990s are on the way to be beatified by Pope Francis. The Church in Algeria wishes that the proclamation will take place in Oran, Algeria.

Pope Francis received, on the 1st September 2017, the Archbishop of Algiers, Mgr. Paul Defarge, Mgr. Jean-Paul Vesco, Bishop of Oran and Fr. Thomas George Postulator and heard the cause defended and brought by the Church of Algeria. Pere Thomas George has collected between 2007 and 2013some 7000 pages which constitute the diocesan process of the 19 religious killed in Algeria. This process of beatification that started 10 years ago is not yet officially signed by the Pope and the Church is hoping that Pope Francis will sign it very soon. The Church wishes that the proclamation will take place in Oran where Bishop Claverie was killed to be a symbol of peace, reconciliation and pardon. As the Archbishop of Algiers said “we cannot think of our martyrs without thinking of all the martyrs of Algeria.

The following is the list of the 19 martyrs:-

  • 8th May 1994 – Br Henri Verges of the Marists Brothers and  Sr. Paul-Helene Saint Raymond of the Little Sisters of the Assumption
  • 23rd October 1994 – Srs. Caridad Alvarez and Esther Paniagua of the Spanish Augustinian Missionaries
  • 27th December 1994 – 4 White Fathers: Frs. Jean Chevillard, Alain Dieulangard, Charles Deckers and Christian Chessel
  • 3rd September 1995 – Jean Littlejohn and Denise Leclercq of Our Lady of The Apostles
  • 10th November 1995 – Sr. Odette Prevost of the Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Charles de Foucault
  • 21st May 1996 – 7 Trappistes: Fr. Christian de Cherge, Br. Luc Doscher, F. Christophe Lebreton, Br Michel Fleury, Fr.Bruno Lemarchand, Fr. Celestin Ringeard, Br. Paul Favre-Miville                                       
  • 1st August 1996 – Pierre Claverie O.P. Bishop of Oran  together with his driver  (Algerian)


Causes of the crisis

Together with other causes here are the principal ones.

The situation and the monopoly of expression attributed to the State and the single party led to the popular explosion of the 5th October 1988, conducted chiefly by youth under 25 years old, to whom the government was incapable of giving work, a house and an ideal way of life. The Islamists took advantage of this popular outbreak.

For three years, the State was obliged to release its control on the population; laws were voted to orient the country towards multipartyism, the plurality of the press and a market economy. In few months 35 parties were created and more than 50 new newspapers were issued.

In this context, the Islamists presented themselves as the only credible alternative and thus won the confidence of the people. The FIS, recognized as a party in 1989, obtained, in June 1990 elections, 60% of the municipalities. From this moment, it tried to conquer power by organizing insurrectional strikes. After the strike of June 91, when all Algiers was mobilized, the principal Leaders were imprisoned, but, the elections of December 91 were maintained. The first round of the elections gave a large victory to the Islamists. Then the army obliged President Chadli to resign and the elections were interrupted on the eve of the second round, on the 11th January 1992. Mohammed Boudiaf, who was in exile in Morocco, was called back and offered the presidency of the High Comity of the State. 7,000 Islamists were then imprisoned in the South of the country. Boudiaf himself was murdered on the 29th June of the same year.  Who murdered Boudiaf?

The underground armed struggle prepared by the Islamists since the eighties then started. This face to face struggle, between armed groups and the state forces, continued up, in spite of President Zeroual’s election and the Legislative Assembly.

This violence has caused a big number of victims in the infernal cycle of crimes, bombs, trapping cars, false barriers, and murders, especially collective murders.


The Church in Algeria

During this period the Church in Algeria suffered from the whole population. Between 1992 and 1993, the Church lost almost all foreign Catholic families. On the 30th October 1993, the G.I.A. warned foreigners that henceforth they were a target. About 200 of different nationalities were murdered between 1993 and 1996, of whom 19 religious.

The crisis struck particularly the centre of Algeria where there is the diocese of Algiers

During these six years of crisis, many people especially youth, who can no longer trust a religion which kills in the name of God, have been asking to be instructed in the Catholic religion. Also, they say that our presence was a sign for them.

What is most extraordinary is that the diocese in Algiers still transmits on the local radio three Masses: Christmas, Easter and Pentecost. The Algerians wait for these days in order to hear the message of the Archbishop and they speak to us on the following day. At the beginning of the crisis, the diocese wanted to suspend these Masses but the management of the radio didn’t want to, in order not to yield to the Islamists.


Sr Yvonne Gera