2021-05-07 GENERAL HOUSE

May 8, anniversary of the death of Br. Henri Vergès

Twenty-seven years ago, Sister Paul-Hélène and our Brother Henri Vergès were killed at their place of work, in the library on Ben Cheneb Street, in Algiers, in the Casbah district. It was a Sunday, the 8th May, in the early afternoon. The Church beatified them as part of the group of 19 martyrs of Algeria, on December 8, 2018, in Oran. Their feast day was set for May 8.

This year, the house of Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux, where Henri began his Marist formation, is welcoming the bishop of Valence, Mgr Pierre-Yves MICHEL, to preside at the Eucharist. In December 2018, Pope Francis, addressing the Algerian authorities and people, wrote, “Through the beatification of our nineteen brothers and sisters, the Church wishes to bear witness to its desire to continue to work for dialogue, concord and friendship. We believe that this unprecedented event in your country will draw in the Algerian sky a great sign of brotherhood addressed to the whole world”

It so happens that the square near the sanctuary of Our Lady of Santa Cruz, the place of the beatification, has been named: “Esplanade of Living Together in Peace“. Isn’t this an anticipated reference to the encyclical “Fratelli tutti“, published last October 3, on the theme of fraternity and social friendship? At the end of his letter, Pope Francis mentions his fraternal meeting with the Great Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, on 4 February 2019, in Abu Dhabi. He writes: “In this framework of reflection on universal brotherhood, I felt particularly stimulated by St Francis of Assisi, and also by others who are not Catholic: Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu, Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi and many others. Pope Francis ends by recalling Blessed Charles de Foucauld, who wanted to be “a brother to everyone all“.

We know that Charles de Foucauld was a model for our brother Henri, as testified by one of his Muslim friends with whom he had many conversations on spiritual themes, especially during his years of solitude in Sour-El-Ghozlane, from 1978 to 1983. Another witness was an employee of the Saint-Bonaventure school where he had known Henri until 1975. This witness wrote, after the funeral Mass he attended at Notre-Dame d’Afrique: “Brother Henri was ahead of his time; he was a man of the 21st century; he was a great communicator… He was a unifier of men… Brother Henri’s death has shaken the planet.

Our Brother had already said it all in his last letter to his friend and spiritual father, Christian de Chergé, the prior of Notre-Dame de l’Atlas, at Tibhirine. On 4 February 1994, a few weeks before his death, he wrote to him: “In our daily relations, let us openly take the side of love, forgiveness and communion against hatred, vengeance and violence.”

Blessed martyrs of Algeria, help us to follow your path to become “brothers to everyone” in today’s world!

Brother Alain Delorme, Saint-Paul-Trois châteaux, May 8, 2021


Educators from Mediterránea are trained in t...


East Asia Province promote safer cyberspace a...