Blessed Christian de Chergé
Born: France, 1937
Died: Algeria, 1996
Feast Day: May 8
Blessed Christian de Chergé was a Trappist monk of French descent who spent some of his childhood years in Algeria, then a French colony. Later, while a military officer during the Algerian War of Independence, a Muslim saved his life, an event that later inspired him to return as a monk to Tibhirine, Algeria to the Abbey of Our Lady of Atlas.
During his time in Europe, he studied Islam and, upon returning to Algeria, he demonstrated respect for the devotion and religious practices of the people he served. He was the prior of the Tibhirine Abbey during the Algerian Civil War of the 1990s. Despite the dangers to Frenchmen in the country at that time, the community discerned that their stability and service to the Muslim community in Tibhirine was paramount.
In 1996, Islamic extremists at odds with the Algerian government entered the monastery, kidnapped seven of the monks (Christian among them), and eventually killed them. In his final Testament, Christian anticipated the vision of heaven, praying that he might “immerse my gaze in that of the Father to contemplate with him His children of Islam just as He sees them, all shining with the glory of Christ, the fruit of His Passion.”
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Of Gods & Men by Xavier Beauvois (Film) (Watch on Amazon / DVD)
Christian's Last Testament is available in translation here
Christian de Chergé: A Theology of Hope by Christian Salenson (Amazon)
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