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Algiers, 8 May 1994



18th anniversary: Brother Henri Vergès

07/05/2012: General House

On Friday 8 May 1994, at the beginning of the afternoon, our Brother Henri Vergès and Sister Paul-Hélène were killed in their work place, the library of rue Ben Cheneb, the Casbah quarter, in Algiers.

On 22 May that year, Christian de Chergé, prior of the Trappist monastery of Notre-Dame de l’Atlas at Tibhirine, a friend of Henri, concluded his Pentecost homily, entitled: « The “martyr” of the Holy Spirit » with the following two paragraphs:

“If we think of our brother Henri and our sister Paul-Hélène – and how not to think of them? –, we know that their witness cannot go without what all those who were long beneficiaries of their lives so truly given have to say about it. They came, both of them, with the hearts of the poor, ready to receive, and they confessed to have received much from this crowd of poor people who are mourning them with us, testifying that they owe them much. The Spirit thus made the « bond of peace », and it is He who helps us live their sacrifice as a Pentecost by proclaiming on them and with them « the wonderful works of God ».

I leave the last word to Henri, during a meeting of ourribât, a year ago: « We are all inhabited by the Spirit… God walks with this people, with this religion, but I do not understand (I am like Mary). I am in search of this plan. I let myself be questioned and I  question. I unsettle the other a bit and the other unsettles me. It is always necessary to try to find what is positive in each one, and encourage it. To be watchmen, it is also to be watchmen, it is to help people live according to the Spirit.”

On this day, the anniversary of the witness (martyr) of our Brother Henri, we give thanks for his life given and, on his example, “in our daily relations, let us openly take the part of love,   pardon, communion, against hate, vengeance, violence” (Letter of 4 February 1994, to Fr Christian de Chergé).

N.B. Father Christian was himself kidnapped and killed on 21 May 1996, with six of his brothers. In 2010, the film « Of men and gods », which retraced the spiritual journey of the community of monks, knew a great success.

Read more about Henri Vergès

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