Blessed Christian de Chergé

Blessed Christian de ChergéAlso known as

  • Charles-Marie Christian de Chergé
  • one of the Monks of Tibhirine

Memorial

Profile

Born to an aristocratic French family with a military tradition; his father, a general, was the commander of the 67th Artillery Regiment of Africa, and Charles spent part of his childhood in Algeria before the family returned to France. He studied at the Carmelite Sainte-Marie de Manceau School outside Paris, France, from 1947 to 1954, was an exceptional student – and a Boy Scout.

Having felt the call to religious life from his childhood, Charles entered the Carmes Seminary in Paris in 1956, but left to return to Algeria in 1959 to serve for 27 months as an officer during the Algerian War. At one point he was saved from an ambush by an Algerian Muslim named Mohamed, a father of ten. Charles told Mohamed that he would pray for him in thanks. Mohamed said that he knew that Charles would pray for him, but said that, “Christians don’t know how to pray.” Mohamed was murdered that night, and Charles saw the whole event as a calling for him to follow Christ by working in Algeria where his friend had given him the greatest gift of life and love by risking himself for another.

Following his military service, he returned to France, continued his studies, and was ordained a priest in the church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris in 1965. Chaplain of the Sacré Cocur Basilica of Montmartre, France from 1964 to 1969. Father Charles joined the Trappist Cistercians, beginning his novitiate at the Aiguebelle Abbey in Algeria in 1971.

Monk at the Abbey of Our Lady of Atlas at Tibhirine near Médéa, Algeria. He studied Arabic language and culture at the Pontifical Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies in Rome, Italy under the direction of the Missionaries of Africa from 1972 to 1974, and back in Algeria he worked for and encourage dialogue between Christians and Muslims. With the White Father missionary, Claude Rault, Father Charles founded the group Ribât-al-Salam (The Place of Peace) in the spring of 1979; the group had the mission of discussion of Muslim tradition and spirituality, and in 1980 were joined by a group of Sufi Muslims. The group became a place for inter-faith dialogue, education and prayer. Chosen prior the Atlas Abbey in 1984.

Father Charles was one of seven monks kidnapped over the night of 26–27 March 1996 during the Algerian Civil War. They were held captive for two months, then murdered for being Christian. Martyr.

Born

Died

Venerated

Additional Information

MLA Citation

  • “Blessed Christian de Chergé“. CatholicSaints.Info. 29 January 2018. Web. 23 April 2018. <>