Cardinal Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, will preside at the beatification of the martyrs of Algeria in Oran, Algeria, today, 8 December
The beatification of the 19 Algerian martyrs will take place in the Basilica of the Santa Cruz, Oran on 8 December. The 19 martyrs, 16 French, two Spanish and one Belgian, were killed between 1994 and 1996 during the civil war in Algeria between the government and Islamist groups. All were Religious: seven Trappist monks, six sisters, four White Fathers, one Marist brother and Bishop Pierre Claverie, a Dominican. The one thing that they all shared in common was a love of Christ and a desire to serve the Muslim people of Algeria.
The best known of the 19 is, undoubtedly, Fr Christian de Chergé, prior of the Trappist monastery at Tibhirine, whose spiritual testament and portrayal in the film Of Gods and Men, winner of the Grand Prix at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, have brought him considerable posthumous fame.
While doing national service during the Algerian war of independence, de Chergé developed a spiritual friendship with a local policeman, Mohamed, a father of 11 and a devout Muslim. One day, a group of guerillas laid an ambush for de Chergé. Thanks to Mohamed’s intervention, his life was saved.