Christian de Chergé, was a French Catholic monk and the Trappist prior of the Tibhirine monastery in Algeria, and in 1993, with the rise of radical Islam, Father Chergé knew that his life was in danger. But rather than leave Algeria, Father Chergé chose to stay and continue his witness to the love of Jesus Christ. On May 24, 1996, Father Chergé was beheaded by Muslim radicals. Anticipating his death, Father Chergé had left a letter with his family to be read upon the event of his murder. The letter reads…
“…If it should happen one day, and it could be today, that I become a victim of the terrorism which now seems ready to encompass all the foreigners living in Algeria, I would like my community, my Church, my family, to remember that my life was given to God and to this country. I ask them to accept that the One Master of all life was not a stranger to this brutal departure. I ask them to pray for me: for how could I be found
worthy of such an offering? I ask them to be able to associate such a death with the many other deaths that were just as violent, but forgotten through indifference and anonymity.
I should like, when the time comes, to have a clear space which would allow me to beg forgiveness of God and of all my fellow human beings, and at the same time to forgive with all my heart the one who would strike me down….
My death, clearly, will appear to justify those who hastily judged me as naïve or idealistic: “Let him tell us now what he thinks of it.” But these people must realize that my most avid curiosity will then be satisfied. This is what I shall be able to do, if God
wills—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, filled with the Gift of the Spirit, whose secret joy will always be to establish
communion and to refashion the likeness, delighting in the differences.
For this life given up, totally mine and totally theirs, I thank God and you also, the friend of my final moment, who would not be aware of what you were doing. Yes, for you also I wish this “thank you”—and this “adieu”—to commend you to the God whose face I see in yours. And may we find each other, happy “good thieves,” in Paradise, if it pleases God, the Father of us both. Amen.”