19 Algerian martyrs, a sign for all

Different personalities, united by a common vocation to holiness. Each of them was an authentic witness of Christ’s love, of dialogue, of openness to others, of friendship and of belonging to the Church.

These are the 19 martyrs of Algeria who were killed in the mid-1990s and who will be beatified on December 8 in Oran in the basilica of Notre-Dame de Santa Cruz.

There are many common traits of these 19 people: their solid faith in Christ and the Gospel, their love for their own land; their evangelical attention and sensitivity to the Algerian people; their respect for the faith of others and their desire to understand Islam.

Pierre Claverie, Bishop of Oran, killed together with his young Muslim driver and friend, a few weeks before dying in a homily said: “After the beginning of the Algerian drama, I have often been asked: ‘What are you doing there? Why do you stay? So shake the dust off your sandals! Get back in!’ But where do we go? What is our home? We are there because of the crucified Messiah. For no other reason and for no other. We have no interest to safeguard, no influence to maintain. We are not driven by who knows what masochistic perversion. We have no power, but we are there like at the bedside of a friend, of a sick brother, in silence, holding his hand and patting his forehead. It is for Jesus, because it is he who suffers there, in this violence that spares no one, crucified again in the flesh of thousands of innocent people. To give one’s life. This is not reserved for martyrs or at least we are called to become ‘martyrs-witnesses’ of the free gift of love, of the free gift of life. This gift comes to us from the grace of God given in Jesus Christ. And how do we translate this gift, this grace?”

The Church of Algeria is aware that it has a prophetic mission, that of creating a climate of dialogue between the Christian faith and Islam. In the certainty that we are all children of God and that the children of God are called to recognize one another.

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