2006-04-26 ALGERIA

The martyrs of the Church of Algeria

Brother Giovanni Bigotto, entrusted with the Marist Postulation for the causes of the saints has published an opuscule on the martyrs of the Church of Algeria which offers a short biography of a group of nineteen martyrs belonging to eight different congregations and cultures, They were passionate servants of the Church for the people of Algeria, in a simple people who weaved numerous links of friendship. They were humble and good; the Lord radiated from their hearts, their lives, their silence. They gave witness to their faith, the faith of those who prepared dialogue through prayer.

Their names are: Henri VergÚs, Marist. Sister Paul-HélÚne Saint-Raymond, from the Little Sisters of the Assumption. Sisters Esther Paniagua Alonso and Caridad Álvarez Martín, Augustinian Missionaries. Fathers Jean Chevillard, Alain Dieulangard, Charles Deckers, Christian Chessel from the Missionaries of Africa, otherwise known as the White Fathers. Sisters Jeanne Littlejohn (AngÚle-Marie), Denise Leclercq (Bibiane) from the Sisters of Our Lady of the Apostles. Sister Odette Prévost, from the Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart. The seven Trappists of Tibhirine: Dom Christian de Chergé, Luc Dochier, Christophe Lebreton, Michel Fleury, Bruno Lemarchand, Célestin Ringeard, Paul Favre-Miville and Bishop Pierre Claverie, Dominican and bishop of Oran.

They form a beautiful icon of the Church in Algeria: small, composed only of a few thousand faithful spread throughout four dioceses: Algiers, Oran, Laghouat and Constantine-Hippone. The Church lives here in poverty for it has lost its social power and pomp; it nourishes its life of love and service. Thus purified and without ambitions, it would like to be a starting point for the dialogue with Islam.

The small Church of Algeria is conscious of living a prophetic mission, of creating for tomorrow a climate of tranquil dialogue between the Christian faith and the Moslem faith, with the certitude that we are all children of God, the work of his hands, and that his children will one day come to know each other as brothers and sisters.

For the great majority of Algerian Moslems, the Church represents a distinct faith whose presence is an occasion to value their own identity and to learn to respect the other.

The Church of Algeria does not forget that it is the inheritor of Tertullien, of Saints Augustine and Cyprian, and all radiant beings who, with the light of their word and their example, have prepared for better times. The prophetical nature of the small Church of Algeria illumines the history that we can glimpse on the horizon. The blood of Christian martyrs shed with that of a great number of Moslem brothers is a passionate supplication interceding so that our humanity will be more welcoming, more tolerant, more human and that it will always know, in its diversity, how to give thanks to God.

(PDF ? 1,3 MB)


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