2022-05-19 FRANCE

The Marists of France celebrate the anniversary of the death of Brother Henri Vergès

Beatification of the Algerian Martyrs is celebrated on May 8. On that day, in 1994, Brother Henri Vergès and Sister Paul-Hélène gave their lives in the service of Algerian youth, in the Casbah district. Since this year, May 8 was a Sunday, the memory was celebrated on May 11, in the house of Saint-Paul-3-Châteaux, where Br. Henri began his Marist formation.
Brother Henri Vergès was beatified on December 8, 2018, with 18 other martyrs of Algeria, and their feast day was set for May 8. An average of 40 brothers and laity participated in the celebration.

The Eucharist was presided over by Monsignor Alain Planet, Bishop of Carcassonne-Narbonne, who met Brother Henri in 1966-67, when he was in charge of the Sainte-Marie Institution, in Bourg-de-Péage, before his departure for Algeria, on August 6, 1969. In his homily, mentioning some personal memories, the celebrant evoked the human and spiritual journey of Brother Henri, servant of the Algerian youth for twenty-five years.

At the end of the Mass, an interview conducted in 1993, in Henri’s office, was broadcast. It is always touching to see his face again, to hear his voice, to feel his apostolic commitment so deeply linked to the situation of the young people who frequented the library where they found a peaceful environment, suitable for studying for exams, in a carefully restored premises. He took great care of the working environment of these young people. It was among them that he died on May 8, 1994.

Br Henri and Father Charles de Foucauld

The canonization, on Sunday May 15, of Father Charles de Foucauld by Pope Francis, is an opportunity to remember that Brother Henri was a spiritual son of the “Universal Brother” according to the testimony of one of his Muslim friends.

“I think that Henri Vergès was very influenced, on a spiritual level, by Charles de Foucauld. He admired this quote from Brother Charles: ‘I wish to be religious, live only for God and do what is most perfect’. Vergès had that same ideal from the time he was admitted to the Marist Congregation. He told me one day, when he was still in Sour-El-Ghozlane: ‘My wish is to die in Algeria, like Foucauld’. Words of a prophet: the two men had the same end (Cf. Prier 15 jours avec Henri Vergès, p. 108).

The fervent desire of brother Charles was “to shout the gospel with his life”. Is it not the echo of these words that resonates in Henri’s words, spoken during a meeting at the Trappist in Tibhirine and recounted by Father Christian de Chergé? “The fifth Gospel, that everybody must read, is life is itself”. (Cf. De Capcir a la Casbah, p. 109).


Brother Henri Vergès was murdered at his place of work, in the library on rue Ben Cheneb, in Algiers, in the Casbah district. It was a Sunday, May 8, in the early afternoon. Read here more information about Blessed Father Henri


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