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Meeting of the historians’ committee

 

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The cause of our martyrs in Algeria

17/01/2009: General House

The 10th January 2009, the historians’ committee gathered for the first time for the cause of our martyrs in Algeria. The meeting took place at the General House of the Marist Brothers.

The three historians took part in the meeting: Brother Jean Jaques Pérennès, coming from Egypt, Ivo Fujardin, the former Abbot of Westmale in Belgium, who is currently the chaplain of the Trappist Sisters of Vitorchiano, and Mgr Augustin, a young historian from Paris, coming from Algeria.

They were joined by the new Abbot General of the Trappists, Fr Eamon Fitzgerald, because the Trappist family is involved in the cause for the seven monks of Tibhirine. The Abbot was accompanied by Sister Augusta Tescari, the postulator. Fr Francesco Ricci represented the Dominicans, and more precisely the cause of Mgr Pierre Claverie. Together with them was Br Giovanni Maria Bigotto, postulator of the cause.

The meeting was important for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was the first time the three historians, coming from such different countries, gathered together. It was an opportunity for them to better understand the work they are entrusted with and agree on a common approach.

They were given a document presenting the requirements of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints concerning the work of the historians: a research of all the elements relating to the identities of the servants of God, of all their unpublished writings, such as letters, articles, spiritual notes…, personal diaries… as well as anything that was written on the servants of God in the days following their assassination.

With the clarifications provided by this document, and through a free exchange of ideas between historians and postulators, the scope of the work and its approach were further defined. It is up to the historians, for instance, to describe the historical context of the years when our martyrs died. In this context, they need to introduce the personal documents, the unpublished writings, the reactions of the media, and the books, which are currently 113. This context will help to further underscore the love that the people of Algeria gave to our martyrs and which our martyrs gave to the people, culture and religion of the Algerian nation. It was a moment of death and sorrow that was experienced together: a historical fact that needs to be seriously pointed out.

It is an impressive amount of work to be carried out with historical rigour.

Once the work is done, the material will be incorporated in the file that will to lead to the beatification. It is added to the testimonies of the witnesses summoned by the diocesan tribunal, as well as to the writings published by the servants of God.

Later will come the work of the theological censors, who will focus on the martyrs’ writings in order to verify their conformity to faith and therefore draft a spiritual portrait of our martyrs.

The path is still long, but we are advancing on it: for some it is too slow, for others quite fast.

Brother Giovanni Maria Bigotto, postulator

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