By Linda Bordoni
In a message to the people of
The 19 martyrs were killed between 1994 and 1996 during the civil war in Algeria between the government and Islamist groups. All were religious and they all shared a love of Christ and a desire to serve the Muslim people of the nation.
The Pope’s message was read after the Beatification Mass presided over in the city of Oran by Cardinal Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.
Pope Francis described the celebration as a joyful one for the Church in Algeria and said he joins the community in giving thanks “for these lives given totally for the love of God, the country and all its inhabitants”.
Encounter and coexistence
May this celebration, he said, “help to heal the wounds of the past and to create a new dynamic of encounter and coexistence in the following of our Blessed”.
The Pope thanked the political authorities of Algeria for having “made possible the celebration on Algerian soil of the beatification of Bishop Pierre Claverie and of his eighteen martyr companions” and he expressed affection and closeness to the Algerian people “who experienced great suffering during the social crisis of which they were victims in the last years of the last century”.
He said that while he celebrates “the fidelity of these martyrs to God's plan for peace" he also prays for the “sons and daughters of Algeria who, like the martyrs, became victims of the same violence for having lived with respect for others and fidelity towards their duties as believers and citizens.
“It is also for them that we raise our prayer and express our grateful homage,” he said.
St. Augustine of Hippo
The Catholic Church in Algeria, the Pope continued, considers itself the heir, together with the whole Algerian nation, of the great message of love spread by one of the many spiritual teachers of the land, Saint Augustine of Hippo.
The Algerian Church, he said, “wishes to serve the same message in these times when all peoples are seeking to advance their aspiration to live together in peace”.
We believe, he concluded, that this unprecedented event in the country “will draw in the Algerian sky a great sign of brotherhood addressed to the whole world”.