Sunday, November 28

The last surviving monk of the Tibhirine massacre buried in the Moroccan Atlas

(Belga) The French monk Jean-Pierre Schumacher, the last survivor of the massacre of seven Trappists in Tibhirine in 1996, in the midst of the civil war in Algeria, was buried Tuesday in a monastery in the Moroccan Atlas, where he died on Sunday at 97 years old.

“Father Jean-Pierre had the gift of peace and serenity. He was endowed with a discreet and peaceful joy that he was able to transmit throughout his life”, proclaimed Cardinal Cristóbal López, during the funeral organized in the small priory church of Notre-Dame de l’Atlas in Midelt (central Morocco). Nearly a hundred people, religious and friends from all over the kingdom made the trip to accompany the Trappist monk to his last home, according to AFP journalists on the spot. Jean-Pierre Schumacher, of Lorraine origin, had escaped an ignominious death in 1996 when seven of his companions of the Cistercian order had been kidnapped at the monastery of Our Lady of the Atlas in Tibhirine (Algeria), before to be murdered and beheaded in circumstances still unclear. The official thesis put forward at the time by Algiers described a kidnapping and then an assassination, claimed by Islamists from the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), but doubts remain about the possible involvement of the Algerian military secret services. Another survivor of the tragedy, the nursing brother Amédée Noto, died in 2008 at the abbey of Aiguebelle (south of France). Just after the massacre, the two monks joined a monastery in Fez, the spiritual capital of Morocco, before settling in Midelt in 2000, where Our Lady of the Atlas of Tibhirine, the only Cistercian monastery of the Maghreb. Father Schumacher took up residence in Midelt, a town at the junction of the Middle and High Atlas. g “He never wanted to leave it, he insisted on being buried there”, testifies José Luis, hotelier monk of this place of worship “unique of its kind in North Africa”. About fifteen inhabitants of the region, who have lived near or far from Our Lady of the Atlas, attended his funeral. “He was an exceptional man, of great kindness”, confides, moved, Hanane, from a neighboring village, during the funeral procession. Buried in the cemetery of the monastery of Midelt, the monk was described by Cardinal López as the “incarnation of memory (of Tibhirine) and the guarantor of its continuity”. (Belga)

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