The Algerian government has approved the holding of a beatification Mass in Oran for seven French Trappist monks who were martyred in the country in 1996, AFP reports.
“The beatification will take place in a few months, in the coming weeks, in Oran,” Algeria’s Foreign Minister, Abdelkader Messahel, told France 24 television April 10.
In January Pope Francis had authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to recognize the martyrdom of Pierre Claverie and his 18 companions, men and women religious, who were killed in hatred of the faith in Algeria between 1994 and 1996.
Claverie was a French Algerian and the Bishop of Oran from 1981 until his Aug. 1, 1996 martyrdom. He and his companions were killed during the Algerian Civil War by Islamists.
The best known of Claverie’s companions are the seven monks of Tibhirine, who were kidnapped from their Trappist priory in March 1996. They were kept as a bartering chip to procure the release of several imprisoned members of the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria, and were killed in May. Their story was dramatized in the 2010 French film Of Gods and Men, which won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival.
The prior, Christian de Chergé, sought peaceful dialogue with the Muslim population of the area and provided employment, medical attention, and education to the locals.
Dom Christian accepted that the current political tensions and violent militias were a threat to his life. According to the Trappist order, he wrote a letter to his community and family, citing the peace felt giving his life to God.
“If it should happen one day – and it could be today – that I become a victim of the terrorism which now seems ready to engulf all the foreigners living in Algeria, I would like my community, my Church and my family to remember that my life was given to God and to this country,” he said.