20 Years After the Slaughter

Tibhirine Monastery. A revenant hope

The night between 26th and 27th March 1996, seven Trappist monks belonging to the Notre Dame de l’Atlas monastery in Tibhirine, Algeria, were kidnapped by terrorists. Their heads were found two months later near the town of Medea. Twenty years later, despite the investigations, thousands of articles and books – and even a movie called “Des hommes et des Dieux”, Grand Jury Prize at Cannes – the mystery about their abduction and murder has never been solved.

Today the Tibhirine monastery still exists. Not only in the memory of the last survivor, Brother Jean Pierre Schumacher, who now lives in Morocco (the other, Brother Amédée, died seven years ago), but also in the Algerian monastery itself, where a French priest in the last fifteen years have been keeping alive the link with the Muslim population of the area and the monastery. Recently new safety problems make his presence quite difficult, but Father Jean Marie Lassausse insists on cultivating the land together with the same people who worked with the monks at that time. He and Jean Pierre are the last bits of memories, a weak legacy between these places and the mysterious tragedy occurred 20 years ago. One last chance of dialogue with the Muslim world on those forgotten hills, through the simple tools of work and prayer.

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