Monday, 31 January 2011

St. Brigid's Shrine, Faughart.

Brigid died at Kildare on February 1 in 525 AD, she was laid to rest in a jeweled casket at Kil Dara. In 835, her remains were moved to protect them from Norse invaders, and interred in the same grave that holds the remains of St Patrick and St Columcille at Downpatrick. She is sometimes known as Bridget, Bride and Mary of the Gael. Her feast day is February 1.
So strong was the respect and reverence for this holy lady that she became the patroness of parishes, towns, and counties, not only in Ireland, but all across Europe and the America’s. She even had a symbol. As the shamrock became associated with St Patrick, a tiny cross made of rushes was linked with St Brigid. Woven by her while she explained the passion of Christ to a dying pagan, he was baptized before he died. Similar crosses are fashioned to this day as a defense against harm, and placed in the rafters of a cottage on the feast day of St. Brigid - February.

Saint Brigid's Shrine, FaughartDundalk, Louth, Ireland

4 min - 2 Feb 2009 - Uploaded by dundalkdemocrat The shrine at Faughartnear Dundalk, County Louth, is dedicated to Saint Brigid, Ireland's second saint (after ... Related videos

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The shrine at Faughart, near Dundalk, County Louth, is dedicated to Saint Brigid, Ireland's second saint (after Patrick), who was said to have been born at Faughart in the fifth century. She later founded a monastery at Kildare. Her tradition is strongly celebrated in Faughart and Dundalk to this day, with an annual pilgrimage and other events taking place on her feast day, February 1st, every year.

St. Brigid's Shrine, Faughart.

St. Brigid's Shrine, Faughart.
St. Brigid's Shrine, Faughart.
Devotion to St Brigid, one of our national patrons, is of ancient origin and would seem to have begun during her lifetime. Brigid's cult grew to a status second only to that of Patrick, and to the Irish she was known as Mary of the Gael.

According to tradition, Brigid was born at Fochard Muirtheimne, a few miles north of Dundalk about 450 AD. Because of the strength of this tradition, the place was later known as Fochard Bríde.

It is believed that Brigid spent her early years in this scenic area of north Co Louth, and the ancient penitential 'stations' linked with St Brigid's Stream have been performed here from ancient times. The original shrine remained largely in a primitive condition until the early 1930s, when the present shrine was erected by local labour and a national pilgrimage organised.

On the first Sunday in July 1934, an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 assembled at Faughart. This great congregation included Eamonn de Valera, several Ministers of State, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, and several members of Dublin Corporation.

In Faughart today St. Brigid's Shrine is visited by hundreds of people from all over Ireland and pilgrims visit Fochard Bríde daily. Public pilgrimages are held during the year, a candlelight procession takes place on the Saint's feast day (1 February), a Mass for the Sick is celebrated in early June and there is a national pilgrimage on the first weekend in July. At public pilgrimages the pilgrims are blessed with a relic of the saint.

There are various large shaped smybolic stones, that people touch and pray around. They firmly believe that St. Brigid’s powers are within those stones and can cure their ailments. People often visit the old church, to pray to St. Brigid and fetch Holy Water from the running stream.
Brigid was one of the most remarkable women of her times, and despite the numerous legendary, extravagant, and even fantastic miracles attributed to her, there is no doubt that her extraordinary spirituality, boundless charity, and compassion for those in distress were real.
Brigid’s wisdom and generosity became legend, and people traveled from all over the country to share her wisdom. Her monastery at Kildare became one of the greatest centers of learning in Europe. She continued her holy and charitable work until her death.

Beatitudes Mt. 5:1-12

Blest are you! - Jesus Sermon Mount
Mass Intro: Fr. Raymond

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Raymond - - -
 Sent: Mon, 31 January, 2011 5:58:30
Subject: Beatitudes


The Beatitudes cut right across all the values of our modern society.
If we consider just one of them alone: “Blessed are the poor in spirit” for example, there is a whole multitude of advertising forces that shouts at us from morning to night the exact opposite.
“You can’t do without this, you can’t do without that.
You must have this, you must have that, or life isn’t worth living.” Whether it is the latest kitchen gadget or some new electronic device, or a bigger and better car or a holiday in some exotic location, or a new house or better furniture etc. etc. that is being forced upon us.
The list goes on interminably, blared at us by all the means of the media day and night.
But experience teaches us that, in fact, the more we have, the more we need. Riches and possessions beget their own kind, as it were.  We are drawn by them into a kind of vicious whirlpool of desires and needs that never stops its mad whirling.
Certainly, especially for the young setting out on life, there can be a legitimate amount of ambition to better oneself and make one’s way in life.
But there must come a time when we become basically satisfied with what we have and what we are, otherwise life becomes one long process of frustrations.
Especially must we always remember that the best things in life are free:  Love, friendship, family, peace of mind, and of course the wonderful sights and sounds of this so beautiful world we live in.
Above all this too is Jesus promise that the following of his commandments is the way to “ Life, pressed down, shaken together and running over.”
He is our creator, he knows our being and its needs and he it is who has drawn up for us this program of life and given us his promise that it works.

Angelus Pope

"Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven" (Mt. 5:12).


On the Beatitudes as a Program of Life
"Teaching That Comes From Above and Touches the Human Condition"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 30, 2011 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.
* * *
Dear brothers and sisters!
  • On this Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Gospel presents the first great sermon that the Lord addresses to the people, on the beautiful hills near the Sea of Galilee. "When Jesus saw the crowds," St. Matthew writes, "he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him" (Matthew 5:1-2). Jesus, the new Moses, “takes his seat on the ‘cathedra’ of the mountain” (“Jesus of Nazareth,” Ignatius Press, 2008, p. 65) and proclaims as “blessed” the poor in spirit, the afflicted, the merciful, those who hunger for justice, the pure of heart and the persecuted (cf. Matthew 5:3-10). This is not a new ideology but a teaching that comes from above and touches the human condition -- precisely that which the Lord, becoming incarnate, chose to assume -- to save it. Thus “the Sermon on the Mount addresses the entire world, the present and the future … and can be understood and lived out only by following Jesus and accompanying him on his journey” (“Jesus of Nazareth,” p. 69). The Beatitudes are a new program of life to liberate us from the false values of the world and open us to the true goods, present and future. When, in fact, God consoles, satiates the hunger for justice, dries the tears of the afflicted, it means that, besides recompensing everyone in a material way, he opens the Kingdom of Heaven. “The Beatitudes are the transposition of Cross and Resurrection into discipleship” (ibid., p. 74). The Beatitudes reflect the life of the Son of God who allows himself to be persecuted, despised to the point of being condemned to death, so that men be granted salvation.
  • An old hermit said: “The Beatitudes are gifts of God, and we must give him great thanks for them and for the recompenses that come from them, that is, the Kingdom of Heaven in the world to come, consolation here, the fullness of every good and mercy from God … once we become the images of God on earth” (Peter of Damascus, in Filocalia, vol. 3, Torino 1985, p. 79). The history itself of the Church, the history of Christian sanctity, are a commentary on the Gospel of the Beatitudes because, as St. Paul writes, “what is weak in the eyes of the world God has chosen to confound the strong; what is ignoble and despised in the eyes of the world, that which is nothing, God chose these to reduce to nothing the things that are” (1 Corinthians 1:27-28). This is why the Church does not fear poverty, scorn and persecution in a society that is often attracted by material well-being and worldly power. St. Augustine reminds us that “it is not worthwhile to suffer these evils, but to endure them for the name of Jesus, not only with a peaceful soul but even with joy” (“De sermone Domini in monte,” I, 5,13: CCL 35, 13).

Dear brothers and sisters, we invoke the Virgin Mary, the one who is Blessed par excellence, asking for the strength to seek the Lord (cf. Sophonias 2:3) and to follow him always, with joy, on the path of the Beatitudes.

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in several languages. In Italian he said:]
This Sunday we celebrate “World Leprosy Day,” which was promoted in the 1950s by Raoul Follereau and officially recognized by the U.N.. Leprosy, although it is diminishing, unfortunately still strikes many people in conditions of great misery. I assure all the sick of a special prayer, which I extend to those who care for them and who in various ways work to eliminate Hansen’s Disease. I especially greet l’Associazione Italiana Amici di Raoul Follereau, which celebrates its 50th anniversary.
In the days that follow, various countries of the Far East will celebrate with joy, especially in the intimacy of families, the Lunar New Year. To all those great peoples I wish from my heart serenity and prosperity.
Today is also the “International Day for Intercession for Peace in the Holy Land.” I join with the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and the Custody of the Holy Land in inviting everyone to pray to the Lord that he bring minds and hearts together in concrete peace projects.
[In English he said:]
I greet warmly all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Angelus. In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear the eight Beatitudes, that beautiful account of what Christian discipleship demands of us. Jesus himself showed us the way by the manner of his life and death, and by rising from the dead he revealed the new life that awaits those who follow him along the path of love. Upon all of you here today, and upon your families and loved ones at home, I invoke abundant blessings of peace and joy.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Christ commanded the wind Mk 4,35-41

Christ Stills the Tempest
Mass Intro ...
----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Nivard - - -
Sent: Fri, 28 January, 2011 17:07:57
Subject: 3 Sat 2011 Our Lady

Christ commanded the wind and there was a great calm.
   Like the disciples in the boat we are rightly troubled if we have forgotten him in whom we have believed. Our anguish becomes unbearable when all that Christ suffered for us remains far from our mind. If we don't think of Christ, he sleeps. Wake Christ; call on our faith. Christ sleeps in us if we have forgotten his Passion. But if we remember his Passion, then Christ awakes in us. When, with all our heart, we have reflected over what Christ suffered, we bear our trials steadfastly in our turn! And maybe with joy we will find ourselves a little more like our King through our suffering. Yes indeed, when these thoughts start to comfort us and give us joy, then we know that Christ has stood up and commanded the wind; from this comes to pass the calm within us.
   The Passion was ever present to Our Lady yet she was ever full of joy and calm. 

Our Lady on 3 Saturday, 29 Jan 2011

«Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.» John 6,68

Saturday of the Third week in Ordinary Time : Mk 4,35-41
Commentary of the day
Saint Augustine (354-430), Bishop of Hippo (North Africa) and Doctor of the Church
Discourses on the Psalms, Ps 55[54]4,10 ;
CCL 39, 664

Jesus the wind, and said to the sea, "Quiet! Be still!"
You are out to sea and a storm brews up. You can't do anything except call out: «Lord, save me!» (Mt 14,30). May he who walks fearlessly over the waves stretch out his hand, may he relieve you of your fear, may he set your confidence in him, may he speak to your heart, saying to you:

Jesus spoke to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!"
   We have our own small storms. We can only call out, “Lord, save me!” He who walks fearlessly over the waves stretches out his hand and relieves us of your fear. Jesus renews our confidence in him.
   He speaks to our heart, saying: “Think of what I have suffered. Do you have something to bear from a false brother or from enemies outside? Didn't I have mine, too? Those who gnashed their teeth outside; the disciple who betrayed me inside.»

True enough, the storm is raging. But Christ saves us from “smallness of soul and the tempest”. Is your boat tossed about? Perhaps it is because Christ is asleep in you. The boat in which the disciples were sailing was being tossed by a raging sea and yet Christ was sleeping. But in time these men realized at last that they had the lord and creator of the wind with them. They drew near to Christ and woke him:

Christ commanded the wind and there was a great calm.
   Like the disciples in the boat we are rightly troubled if we have forgotten him in whom you have believed. Our anguish becomes unbearable when all that Christ suffered for us remains far from our mind. If you don't think of Christ, he sleeps. Wake Christ; call on your faith. Christ sleeps in us if we have forgotten his Passion. But if we remember his Passion, then Christ awakes in us. When, with all our heart, we have reflected over what Christ suffered, won't we bear our trials steadfastly in our turn? And maybe with joy you will find yourself a little more like your King through your suffering. Yes indeed, when these thoughts start to comfort you and give you joy, then know that Christ has stood up and commanded the wind; from this comes to pass the calm within you.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Paul Conversion & Christian Unity

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

The Conversion of St Paul, apostle - Feast

St.Paul apostle Conversion
Mass Introduction
It is the Conversion of Paul Feast and the final day of the Octave of Christian Unity.   
The climax is the celebration of Vespers ate the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
The Unity Week work has contributed from the WCC-World Council of Churches, the Pope and so many Churches of Dioceses and Dominations.
The leading of the theme of the Octave was presented by the Churches in Jerusalem and the Holy Land.
In Rome. prominent at present is the Session of the Commission of Dialogue between the Catholic and the Ancient Eastern Churches. This is very much to the heart of Pope Benedict as it was by Pope John Paul II.
The large panorama of Christian Unity may feel overwhelming.
To concentrate our focus the wonderful message of St. Francis reminds us. At the chapel of San Damiano in Assisi a voice from the crucifix said. “Now go, hence, Francis, and build up My house, for it is nearly falling down!” It was not the mere chapel but the entire universal Church. Like Francis we are each called to build the universal Church.
At the heart of the universal Church, quietly and silently, in the Eucharist and Communion. United in Christ we are aware of the shortcomings in build his Church.
Note Acts 9:1-22
As we listened to the First Reading Acts 9:1-22, it resounded the more ever than Francis. The encounted of St. Paul with Jesus is even more dramatic.
Saul at Damascus


What you can see in this picture……
A man falls or has just fallen from his horse. A dazzling light comes down from the heaven and it is the blinding that it provokes, and not the horse’s brutal movement, that explains the fall.
Paul is listening to the voice that comes from heaven and reproaches him with persecuting Christians.
Saul now blind has just converted himself on the way to Damascus.

...and in other pictures
Paul is a soldier on his way to Damascus; that is why he is supposed to go on horseback though the text says nothing about it. The horse is present only to show the intensity of the dazzling and the consequent blinding of the horseman, now unable to get up. He is at the same time stupefied and attentive to the words he can hear.
Other soldiers often accompany him and watch this fall with astonishment. They sometimes form a real army in the middle of which Paul’s fall is lost or, on the contrary, the hero can be alone to be better put into prominence.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Saint Agnes

Friday, 21 January 2011

Friday of the Second week in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates : St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr (+ 304) - Memorial 

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Nivard ...
Sent: Thu, 20 January, 2011 17:10:01
Subject: Jesus calls his disciples

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted to be his apostles.
   Here we have the mystery of our vocation. We are here to do only one thing i.e. to sing what I must sing eternally: "The Mercies of the Lord”.
   Jesus does not call those who are worthy but those whom he pleases. St. Paul says: "God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and he will show pity to whom he will show pity. So then, there is question not of him who wills, not him who runs, but of God showing mercy".
Saint Agnes


Today we celebrate the birth of St Agnes.
God chose her for himself. She was a mere nothing in the eyes of the world but he showered his extraordinary favours on the twelve year old virgin martyr The child Agnes was faithful unto death. May we likewise persevere faithfully to the end of our ‘white martyrdom’.
Let us pray.
   Almighty, eternal God, you choose what the world considers weak to put the worldly power to shame. May we who celebrate the birth of Saint Agnes into eternal joy be loyal to the faith she professed.
   Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, you Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  

Bidding Prayer:                        
   Father, we thank you for hearing and answering our prayers. May we continue to praise and thank you for all your blessings throughout the day, through Christ our Lord.

Let us pray.
Prayer after Communion,
    Lord God, may this Eucharist renew our courage and strength. May we remain close to you, like St Agnes, by accepting in our lives a share in the sufferings of Jesus Christ , who lives and reigns with you for ever.  

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus (1873-1897), Carmelite, Doctor of the Church
MS A, 2 r°-v°
The mystery of vocation
I'm going to be doing only one thing: I shall begin to sing what I must sing eternally: "The Mercies of the Lord!» (Ps 89[88],1)... Opening the Holy Gospels my eyes fell upon these words: "And going up a mountain, he called to him men of his own choosing, and they came to him." This is the mystery of my vocation, my whole life, and especially the mystery of the privileges Jesus showered upon my soul. He does not call those who are worthy but those whom he pleases or as St. Paul says: "God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and he will show pity to whom he will show pity. So then, there is question not of him who wills nor of him who runs, but of God showing mercy" (Rm 9, 15-16).

I wondered for a long time why God has preferences, why all souls don't receive an equal amount of graces. I was surprised when I saw him shower his extraordinary favours on saints who had offended him, for instance, St. Paul and St. Augustine, and whom he forced, so to speak, to accept his graces. When reading the lives of the saints, I was puzzled at seeing how Our Lord was pleased to caress certain ones from the cradle to the grave, allowing no obstacle in their way... Jesus deigned to teach me this mystery. He set before me the book of nature; I understood how all the flowers he has created are beautiful... And so it is in the world of souls. He willed to create great souls comparable to lilies and roses, but he has created smaller ones and these must be content to be daisies or violets destined to give joy to God's glances when he looks down at his feet. Perfection consists in doing his will, in being what he wills us to be.

Newman 'God has created me to do Him some definite service...

"Some Definite Service" John Henry Cardinal Newman
John Henry Cardinal Newman                            J    ry Cardinal Newman

Meditations on Christian Doctrine
I. Hope in God—Creator
March 7, 1848


God was all-complete, all-blessed in Himself;
but it was His will to create a world for His glory.
He is Almighty, and might have done all things Himself,
but it has been His will to bring about His purposes
by the beings He has created.
We are all created to His glory—we are created to do His will.
I am created to do something or
to be something for which no one else is created;
I have a place in God's counsels, in God's world,
which no one else has; whether I be rich or poor,
despised or esteemed by man,
God knows me and calls me by my name.


God has created me to do Him some definite service;
He has committed some work to me
     which He has not committed to another.
I have my mission—I never may know it in this life,
     but I shall be told it in the next.

Somehow I am necessary for His purposes…
     I have a part in this great work;
I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection
     between persons.
He has not created me for naught. I shall do good,
     I shall do His work;
I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth
     in my own place, while not intending it,
     if I do but keep His commandments
     and serve Him in my calling.

Therefore I will trust Him.
     Whatever, wherever I am,
     I can never be thrown away.
If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him;
In perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him;
If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him.
My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be
     necessary causes of some great end,
     which is quite beyond us.
He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life,
     He may shorten it;
     He knows what He is about.
     He may take away my friends,
     He may throw me among strangers,
     He may make me feel desolate,
     make my spirits sink, hide the future from me—
     still He knows what He is about.…
Let me be Thy blind instrument. I ask not to see—
     I ask not to know—I ask simply to be used.

O Adonai, O Ruler of Israel, 

Thou that guidest Joseph like a flock, 
O Emmanuel, O Sapientia, I give myself to Thee. 
I trust Thee wholly. 
Thou art wiser than I—more loving to me than I myself. 
Deign to fulfil Thy high purposes in me whatever they be—
work in and through me. 
I am born to serve Thee, to be Thine, to be Thy instrument. 
Let me be Thy blind instrument. 
I ask not to see—I ask not to know—I ask simply to be used.

from Meditations and Devotions,
"Meditations on Christian Doctrine,"
"Hope in God—Creator", March 7, 1848
download as PDF

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Newman Bl. John Henry

This book has been enjoyed as the Refectory Reading. It is short, 204 pages, and illustrated copiously.
Blessed John Henry Newman
Authorised BIOGRAPHY for the Beatification
by K. Beaumont

An expression of total “surrender” to God.
Newman by Keith Beaumont p. 95, 2010 CTS
Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him: in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain: He may prolong my life, He may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me – still He knows what He is about.
 “Meditations and Devotions” pp. 301-2 

Reviews of Atlas Monks Film Award and ARCHIVE "A Heritage Too Big For Us"

Reviews of Atlas Monks Film award -
Of Gods and Men, Des Hommes Et Des Dieux
----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Andy . . .
To: Donald . . .Sent: Mon, 6 December, 2010 0:34:37
Subject:  Of Gods and Men Des Hommes et des Dieux
Dear Donald
Anne Marie and I have just returned from seeing the film of Gods and Men.  What a movie. Very sensitive to the spirituality of the life within the monastery. The setting depicted the very simplistic way of life of these monks and actors in no way detracted from the sensitive nature of the build up to the kidnapping of the seven martyrs. 

The movie was very spiritual, prayerful and at parts very emotional especially after the community had decided to remain in the monastery and during the community meal one of the monks opened bottles of wine and played a recording from Swan Lake - a very moving part of the story as each member of the community realised what lay ahead of them

The sensitivity of the Cistercian way of life was very evident in the singing of the psalms, in the celebration of the Eucharist and in the Salve Regina. On looking a some of the photographs of the Atlas Martyrs it is amazing how the actors chosen to portray the monks resembled them. A film well worth seeing.

God bless

Amazon US 
5.0 out of 5 stars 
Brothers of Tibhirine,
11 Dec 2010
By  Benedict – 
Movie Review
Of Gods and Men OST (Des Hommes et des Dieux) (Audio CD)
After seeing this film I was moved by the very carefully selected music used as assist in the understanding of the spiritual, emotional and prayerful depth of the real life story of the Atlas Martyrs. The use of Latin and French text in the singing aids the listener, or viewer of the film, to become involved in the prayerful atmosphere portrayed within the Cistercian monastery. The musical climax of the movie is the background playing of Swan Lake as the community share their "Last Supper". A movie worth seeing and a soundtrack worth listening too.

---- Forwarded Message ----
From: Anne Marie . . .
To: nunraw Donald . . . .
Sent: Mon, 6 December, 2010 21:42:56
Subject: Movie review

Well, the film is more than you would expect. When it comes to monasticism I wondered if they would be able capture it.
They did it by not being afraid to be silent and to allow the
chant to do its work.  It seemed to bring you to the heart of the matter, something mysterious and wonderful. 
The relationship between the community and the village was a true bond despite religious differences and obviously a very important focus.
I won't spoil any more for you.  I was deeply moved by the film due to its simplicity.
Anne Marie
----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Noreen . . .
To: Donald. . .
Sent: Tue, 28 December, 2010 20:58:32
Subject: Re: Movie review
Jo and I managed to see the film "Of Gods and men" on the 13th Dec. at the Irish Film Institute in Dublin.  They show award winning films from other countries.  It was shown in a smallish cinema, which was full that afternoon.  A lady next to me said there were so many coming that they were going to transfer it to a larger cinema within their complex.  It was shown for a full month.  Unfortunately, it is not showing in the larger cinemas in the city.
Jo and I really enjoyed it very much and found it easy to follow the French with English dubbing.  It is rare to see such a beautiful presentation of Religious life.  Having so much background knowledge from you both was of course helpful.  It is great to read such positive reviews also.
. . .

The film Of Gods and Men Des Hommes et des Dieux  was in Edinburgh.
Friends, who saw it, were gripped by the whole presentation.
Another friend hurried to view the last showing and regretfully could not get place even among the standing.

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: John . . .
To: Donald . . .
Sent: Tue, 18 January, 2011
Subject: RE: Leeds cinema.
Dear Fr Donald,

Thank you so much for your kind email and the attachment. I was delighted to be able to print the copy of volume 1 of “A Heritage Too Big for Us” from the online version you sent. I’ve long had and interest in the Atlas Martyrs ever since reading John Kiser’s account. Their martyrdom has come to new appreciation through the film ‘Of Gods and Men’ which I saw twice in Leeds. I found it immensely moving.
Yours . . 

Peter from Leicester spoke to us about how riveting and impressive silence at the end of the showing. 
Other Emails and Letters came from UK and came friends in France to tell us of their pleasure to see the film on the Atlas Monks.

Our anticipation awaits the availability of the DVD. 
The Amazon provider disappointed us by supplying the CD Audio ONLY,
and then failed completely to offer the DVD Of Gods and Men, Des Hommes Et Des Dieux.
Perhaps it may find the DVD through


An Archive of the background of the seven monks of Atlas, Algeria.
For those who wish to read more on our book on-line here.

A Heritage Too Big For US

Atlas Martyrs
Vol 1. edited by
Donald McGlynn, ocso

On May 21, 1996, seven monks of the Cistercian-Trappist monastery of Our Lady of Atlas in Algeria died by assassination at the hands of terrorists: Fr. Christian de Chergé, Br. Luc Dochier, Fr. Christophe Lebreton, Br. Paul Favre-Miville, Br. Michel Fleury, Fr. Bruno Lemarchand, and Fr. Célestin Ringeard.
In my heart a single phrase was resounding: “We will not leave our dead alone, we shall come back!” (Dom Bernardo Olivera, OCSO)[1]
 From the beginning the General Chapter has been marked by the luminous witness of our brothers of Atlas who have reminded us of the meaning, the value, and the fecundity of a cenobitic life in the radical following of Christ, rooted in the local Church, responsible for a particular people, open to dialogue between religions and cultures. (Message of the General Chapter of 1996)[2]
Tibhirine was for us an icon of our vocation as Christians seeking God in the land of Algeria, that is to say in a Muslim land. . . . I think there is no other monastery in the world which has such a general relationship with the members of the local Church. Most of the priests, religious men and women, as well as the laity living permanently in the diocese, had a personal bond with the community. (Mgr. Henri Teissier, Archbishop of Algiers)[3]
I had hardly arrived in their house, so poor and welcoming at the same time, when deep within me, coming I know not from where, I had the powerful feeling that the true monks of today were right there. And I remembered the words of Jean Baptiste Metz: that the religious life can no longer be understood away from that precariousness which tells of its openness to the eschatological. (Fr. Philippe Hémon, Tamié)[4]


March 27–May 21 Fifty-six days of abduction.

March 27
Abduction of seven monks in their monastery of Our Lady of Atlas, Tibhirine.
March 28
Paris demands that Algeria put all its forces into operation to free them.
April 14
Pope John Paul II, in Tunisia, declares that his thoughts “turned first of all” to the seven Trappists.
April 25
The aman, the protection of the previous emir, is revoked. The GIA justify their kidnapping of the monks “still alive” and demand of President Chirac “an exchange of your prisoners for our prisoners.”
April 28
More than 2000 people pray in Notre Dame in Paris with the leaders of different religions.
April 30
The French ambassador receives an audio cassette confirming that the monks are still alive, as well as a letter laying down the conditions for negotiation.
May 1
A day of prayer is observed world-wide in Cistercian monasteries.
May 7
In Paris, Muslim leaders issue a letter to the kidnappers condemning their action as a violation of Islamic precepts.
May 9
The French authorities affirm that they will not negotiate with the GIA.
May 21
The GIA affirm: “We have cut the throats of the seven monks.”
May 27
Pentecost. Testament of Fr. Christian is opened. “Words to inspire the world” give keynote to reflections on the events.
May 30
Cardinal Léon-Étienne Duval dies at ninety-two. The remains of the seven monks are found. Abbot General Bernardo Olivera arrives in Algiers.
June 2
Cardinal Arinze preaches panegyric at Mass in Algiers for the seven monks and Cardinal Duval.
June 4
Transfer of remains by seven military ambulances to Tibhirine. Burial of the seven monks surrounded by mourning Muslim neighbors.
July 16
Reported assassination of Djamel Zitouni by other rebels.
August 1
Bishop Pierre Claverie of Oran is killed by a bomb on his own doorstep.
October 5
 Fr. Jean-Pierre addresses the General Chapter on “Present Situation of Atlas.”
October 12
At Tre Fontane, Rome, Archbishop Teissier preaches at Mass of General Chapter. Pope sends message from hospital.

Abduction: March 26–27, 1996

Among those who lived through the events of the forced entry of the GIA terrorists (Armed Islamic Group) and the abduction of seven monks on the night of March 26–27, 1996, were three eyewitnesses who wrote accounts of what happened.[5] Fr. Jean-Pierre was the porter of the monastery, who observed some of the activities of that night. Fr. Amadeus’s room was close to the medical supplies, which diverted attention from his locked door. The third witness was one of twelve members of the Ribât group staying in the guest quarters. They were fortunate to remain undetected. Each became aware of what was happening in his own way. It is remarkable that so much could have been going on, within the same walls, without everyone’s being alerted. A clear, composite picture of events emerges from the independent accounts of these witnesses.
At the midday hour of March 26, 1996, the community Mass was celebrated as usual. As the brothers heard the Gospel of the day, they could not have anticipated the manner in which the words from John 8:21–30, “I am going away and you will seek me,” were to be realized tragically in seven of them that very night.
At 5:30 p.m., the end of the working day, the time people stopped coming to the dispensary, Fr. Jean-Pierre locked up for the night. The Security Services had been insisting on early closing for some time. At 1:15 a.m., Fr. Jean-Pierre, sleeping in the porter’s room next to the entrance, was awakened by the sound of voices. Remaining concealed, he made out two or three persons speaking in Arabic and immediately realized it could only be the “brothers from the mountain” who had somehow gained access to the cloister. A man with a tommy-gun joined the others. From another angle Jean-Pierre saw a turbaned figure, also with a tommy-gun slung across his shoulder, making an entrance near Br. Luc’s room; conversation was low and there was no violence, so he did not realize the gravity of the situation. He had not heard the doorbell and therefore assumed that Fr. Christian had forestalled him and had taken matters in hand just as he had done on that all too acutely remembered forced entry of Christmas Eve, 1993. He had no idea that some twenty terrorists were deployed. He felt it wiser not to show himself and prayed anxiously for them to go away. The thought of death and martyrdom had often occurred to him but not the possibility of being taken hostage. He heard someone ask “Who is the chief?” and a reply, “That’s him, the chief. You must do what he tells you,” followed by comings and goings in the entrance hall. Then silence, and the sound of the street door being closed. He thought Christian had sent the intruders away. He went to go to the bathroom before returning to bed. The lights had been turned off; everything seemed in order, except for some clothing scattered about. He wondered, “Did they ask for some clothing that they did not like and threw there on their way out?” Everything else seemed normal. There was nothing more to be done. Jean-Pierre did not know that the lights had been turned off by Fr. Amadeus.
Fr. Amadeus had been awakened by noise that made him think of Br. Luc looking for medicines, except that Luc would not be so rough. He could then hear voices but not Luc’s familiar asthmatic cough. Someone tried his door. It was locked and the intruders seemed to turn their attention back to the medicine cartons. Amadeus used his torch to check his watch. It was 1:15 a.m. He dressed silently. The figures were too close to the door for him to see much through the keyhole as they continued to ransack the medicine stores. After activities had stopped, he eased his door open. The lights were on. Everything was in disarray. In the adjoining room of Br. Luc, medicines and books were on the floor. The new little radio had gone. Expecting the worst, he rushed to Fr. Christian’s office, where Christian had been sleeping recently in order to be near those at the entrance. There also everything was turned upside down, the electric typewriter and camera had disappeared, and the telephone had been removed. Of Fr. Christian and Br. Luc there was no sign.
“What about the guests?” It was at this point that he quickly extinguished the lights and hurried to find out about the twelve members of the Ribât who were in the guest rooms near the community bedrooms. The doors of the monks’ rooms all lay open, lights on, everything scattered about and the brothers gone. In great fear for the guests he continued along the passage through the enclosure door to the guest quarters. There everything was quiet. The night-lights were on and the bedroom doors closed. He knocked on the first door. He found the occupant wide awake and waiting, having been roused earlier by another guest in the group. The two listened in alarm. They thought they heard Célestin’s voice among others and supposed he might have taken ill and that the brothers wanted to move him downstairs, or might have wanted to take him to the hospital, but that was impossible in the night. Boldly, one of the two half-opened the monks’ enclosure door. They knew immediately that the terrorists had come again. When at last there was silence and the hallway was empty, they still could not risk making themselves conspicuous or try to escape by the external stairs, fearing that armed men were still around. They decided to return to their rooms.
The intruders made a quick departure. Did they think they had their full catch of hostages after they had rounded up seven of the monks? They would not have known that two monks, Br. Paul and Fr. Bruno, had arrived just that previous evening, another indication of a premeditated kidnapping. Police findings showed that taxis had been requisitioned at the village of Ain Elrais. These were later found abandoned. After that the kidnappers seem to have used mules to cover their trek into hiding in the mountains.
 As the guest in the room nearest the monks’ enclosure waited in his bed with thoughts of death, listening for further sounds, Fr. Amadeus appeared with a torch saying, “Are you there? The monastery is empty. There isn’t a single father left!” Together they began their search. The guest noticed that Br. Paul’s room was littered with the wrappings of gifts and sweets he had just brought back for Easter. He noticed one box left untouched because, he guessed, the chocolates contained alcohol. He later placed these in the refrigerator to await the return of the brothers. A large cheese was likewise left lying near the statue of Our Lady, because it had the large Savoy Cross on the Tamié wrapping. In the kitchen, refectory, and cloister they found little disturbed, except that the telephone line had been cut. They went toward the porter’s room. “Jean-Pierre, it’s Amadeus, are you there?” To their great relief Jean-Pierre, fully dressed, opened the door with his usual peaceful smile. They told him, “We are the only ones here, all the others have been taken away.”
The first thing to do was to contact the Security Services, but the telephone lines had been cut. It was later found that the wires had been severed fifteen kilometers away, another mark of a well-planned raid. They went to the nearest house with a phone, only to discover that they could not make a call. The family was terribly frightened, and Fr. Jean-Pierre stayed awhile to comfort and encourage them.
By 3:00 a.m. nothing more could be done, and it was decided to rest until the office of Vigils. Amadeus said he had not finished the rosary he had begun while the others were out. Together they completed the prayer. “Amadeus radiated an extraordinary peace,” the guest noticed. As arranged, they began Vigils at 5:15, three guests feeling honored to hold the place in choir of the abducted brothers, as best they could. It was thus in the chapel that the other Ribât members, nine sisters, found them.
At dawn there was an unusual silence. The call of the muezzin did not mingle with the sound of the monastery bell. It seemed that the villagers already knew of the attack and were fearful. The twenty or so faithful who normally came to the mosque, part of the monastery building, for dawn prayer did not come. Fr. Jean-Pierre and one of the guests drove off through the mist and arrived at the police station at Médéa at 7:15 a.m. The commandant was on the point of setting off on a planned operation but gave them his full attention. He immediately contacted his superiors and obtained authorization to inform Archbishop Teissier, the French Ambassador, and the Algerian Press Service. All was conducted in Arabic and with surprising alacrity.
Ten members of the Ribât group departed for Algiers in two cars. One had to wait for other transport. Another decided to stay with Jean-Pierre and Amadeus that night. The group reassembled at the Diocesan Center, “in communion with our wounded Church and at the same time conscious that, as Sr. Jean-Marie said, our brothers were living or were already in the light of God, and it was for us to watch with them. This is why we felt it right to continue our programme.”[6]
During the day a contingent of police and then a detachment of soldiers came to investigate. When they began to enter the cloister they were stopped by the guest who asked them to stay at the entrance, using the words of Fr. Christian on an earlier occasion: “This is a place of prayer and of peace. We do not enter it with arms.” In each case the armed men respected this situation. In the evening Jean-Pierre and Amadeus accepted the military instructions and were guests at a hotel in Médéa for that night. The Ribât guest accompanied them and admired how Jean-Pierre and Amadeus, in their rough jackets and woolen bonnets, spoke with their usual simplicity and peacefulness to the hotel manager, the head of the prefecture, the chief of police, and everyone who welcomed them and wanted to fuss over them.[7]

History of Cistercian Monks (Trappists) in Algeria 1843–1904, 1934–97[8]

The fate of the Cistercian monks of Our Lady of Atlas at Tibhirine, like the many Trappists who completed their special religious calling in Algeria before them, is marked by its Cistercian character. The present Constitutions of the Order, approved as recently as 1990, express the exceptional nature of certain communities living in non-Christian environments: “In God’s providence monasteries are holy places not only for those who are of the household of the faith, but for all persons of good will” (ST 30.B). North Africa has always been exceptional, because it has held little hope of local recruitment, and more especially because it has provided the need for a Christian presence of a purely spiritual character in a non-Christian milieu.
The lives of the young monks who died in the early years of Staouëli[9] are remembered not for anything they had to do with the forces of political power of French colonization, which differed so much from those of the conflict of Algerian Independence, but for the uncompromising pursuit of their own monastic vocation of silence, prayer, and labor.
The commendable achievements attributed to the monks for a number of good reasons—their contributions in agriculture, education, evangelism, and medicine—may be a credit to them but are extrinsic to their real aim. These achievements demonstrate both the reality of the social, religious, and political conditions and how little these impinge upon the life of the anonymous monk following the simple Cistercian vocation of austerity and prayer. The lot of the Atlas monks in 1996 was apparently at the mercy of external circumstances, as was that of their predecessors at Staouëli in the previous century, and at the same time distinctive in the primacy of its spiritual goal and faithfulness to that goal alone.