OLA Sisters to be Beatified in Algeria on 8 December 2018


Angele-Marie and Bibiane Algerian Martyrs.jpg

On 8 December 2018, OLA Sisters Angèle-Marie Littlejohn and Bibiane Leclercq, together with 17 others who were martyred during the Algerian Civil War between 1994 -1996, will be beatified during a ceremony taking place in Oran, Algeria. 

Their collective cause for beatification opened on 31 March 2007, titling them all as Servants of God. Pope Francis confirmed their beatification in earlier this year.

The two OLA sisters had lived nearly 35 years in Algeria, devoting themselves to training young girls not only in  embroidery and sewing, but also passed on the qualities of beauty, love, dignity and responsibility. They lost their lives in the Belouizdad district of the capital where they taught, not far from the aprtment where they lived. 

Leaving Mass on Sunday, September 3, 1995, one of the sisters spoke to Sr Angèle-Marie of her fear of violence. Angela Marie answered, "We must not be afraid. We only have to live well in the present moment ... the rest does not belong to us ".  She was killed not long after this, together with Sister Bibiane who is remembered for saying, "It's the language of the heart that counts."

On the altar of their chapel, the Bible was open to 1 Corinthians: The message of the cross is folly for those who are on the way to ruin, but for those of us who are on the road to salvation it is the power of God.

A pastoral letter from the Archbishop of Algiers, Mgr Paul Desfarges, says of the 19 martyrs that they gave their lives "for God and the (Algerian) people to whom they were bound by love. [. . .] They sealed in our people a brotherhood through shed blood. Their lives were taken along with those of thousands of their Algerian brothers and sisters who, too, lost their lives when they chose to remain loyal to their faith in God, to their conscience and out of love for their country."

The late bishop of Oran, Pierre Claverie, will also be among the religious who will be beatified. He died along with a young Algerian Muslim on 1 August 1996.

Sr Patricia McMenamin was Superior General in Rome at the time of the killings and knew the sisters and Bishop Claverie well. She will be travelling to Algeria to attend the beatification ceremony.

Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, will preside at the beatification of the martyrs which will begin with a welcome ceremony at Oran’s Grand Mosque.

The nineteen individuals to be beatified are:

  • killed on 8 May 1994 in Algiers, Algeria:
    • Henri Vergès (born 15 July 1930 in Matemale, Pyrénées-Orientales, France; professed religious of the Marist Brothers of the Schools)
    • Paul-Hélène Saint Raymond (born 24 January 1927 in Paris, France; professed religious of the Little Sisters of the Assumption)
  • killed on 23 October 1994 in Bab-el-Oued, Algiers, Algeria:
    • María Caridad Álvarez Martín (born 9 May 1933 in Santa Cruz de Salceda, Burgos, Spain; professed religious of the Augustinian Missionary Sisters)
    • Esther Paniagua Alonso (born 7 June 1949 in Izagre, León, Spain; professed religious of the Augustinian Missionary Sisters)
  • killed on 27 December 1994 in Tizi-Ouzou, Algeria:
    • Alain Dieulangard (born 21 May 1919 in Saint-Brieuc, Côtes-d'Armor, France; professed priest of the Missionaries of Africa)
    • Charles Decker (born 26 December 1924 in Antwerp, Belgium; professed priest of the Missionaries of Africa)
    • Jean Chevillard (born 27 August 1925 in Angers, Maine-et-Loire, France; professed priest of the Missionaries of Africa)
    • Christian Chessel (born 27 October 1958 in Digne, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France; professed priest of the Missionaries of Africa)
  • killed on 3 September 1995 in Belcourt, Algiers, Algeria:
    • Dénise Leclerc (born 8 January 1930 in Gazeran, Yvelines, France (in religious Bibiane); professed religious of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of the Apostles)
    • Jeanne Littlejohn (born 22 November 1933 in Tunis, Tunisia (in religious Angèle-Marie); professed religious of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of the Apostles)
  • killed on 10 November 1995 in Algiers, Algeria:
    • Odette Prévost (born 17 July 1932 in Oger, Marne, France; professed religious of the Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart)
  • killed on 21 May 1996 near Médéa, Algeria:
    • Christian de Chergé (born 18 January 1937 in Colmar, Haut-Rhin, France; professed priest of the Trappists)
    • Paul Dochier (born 31 January 1914 in Bourg-de-Péage, Drôme, France (in religious Luc); professed religious of the Trappists)
    • Christophe Lebreton (born 11 October 1950 in Blois, Loir-et-Cher, France; professed priest of the Trappists)
    • Michel Fleury (born 21 May 1944 in Sainte-Anne, Loire-Atlantique, France; professed religious of the Trappists)
    • Christian Lemarchand (born 1 March 1930 in Saint-Maixent, Deux-Sèvres, France (in religious Bruno); professed religious of the Trappists)
    • Célestin Ringeard (born 27 July 1933 in Touvois, Loire-Atlantique, France; professed priest of the Trappists)
    • Paul Favre-Miville (born 17 April 1939 in Vinzier, Haute-Savoie, France; professed religious of the Trappists)
  • killed on 1 August 1996 in Oran, Algeria:
    • Pierre Claverie (born 8 May 1938 in Algiers, Algeria; professed priest of the Order of Preachers and Bishop of Oran)

 Read more about Srs Angèle-Marie Littlejohn and Bibiane Leclercq here.