Africa Service – Vatican News
Blessed Pierre Claverie and his eighteen companions were victims of the violence during the Algerian civil war of the 1990s. In the years of the turmoil, more than 150,000 Algerians are also said to have died.
The Saturday 8 December ceremony on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary was an extraordinary day of great joy and great warmth. It also turned out to be an interreligious ceremony.
Muslim representatives graced the occasion
Many Muslims participated in the beatification ceremony, which aroused a lot of joy and emotion for Archbishop Paul Desfarges of Algiers and many others present. They saw in the beatification and solidarity of the Muslims, the fruit of intense efforts by the Church of Algeria and the local population.
Many Imams were also present, visiting the Church a few hours after receiving the families of the Martyrs at the Great Mosque. One of the highlights of the Mass was the exchange of the peace sign, during Mass, when the Bishops went down to the faithful and greeted the Muslim representatives.
The People of Algeria and the Martyrs shared a common destiny
In his address at the beginning of the ceremony, Bishop Jean-Paul Vesco, the Bishop of Oran, spoke both in French and in Arabic. He began by mentioning the friendship between Blessed Pierre Claverie and his driver Mohamed Bouchikhi, killed with him on 1 August 1996. This, according to Bishop Vesco, showed that the destinies of the 19 Martyrs were linked to those of the Algerian people, who also suffered greatly during this period.
The beatification started with a moment of silence and contemplation for all the victims of the massacre.
Cardinal Becciu, who represented Pope Francis, expressed his pleasant surprise at such an amicable climate between Christians and Muslims.