Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The Herald of God's Loving-Kindness. Gertrude the Great

Word at  Christmas 
St Gertrude of Helfta. 
The Heralds of God’s Loving-Kindness,
C. 23, 3.
In this same shaken state I offer you as compensation,
most loving Father
the passion of
your most beloved Son in its entirety,
from the time that he lay wailing on hay in the manger,
and suffered from then on through the needs of infancy

the weaknesses of childhood,
the trials of adolescence and the sufferings of early manhood,
right up to the moment
when on the cross with bowed head, 4,
he yielded up his spirit with a great c
ry, 5.
To m
ake up for all my acts of negligence I offer you, most loving Father,
that mo
st holy life in its entirety, completely perfect in all its thoughts,
words and deeds from the moment
your only-begotten Son was sent down
from the pinnacle of his throne and entered our country
through the Virgin
's ear, 6,
until the moment that he brought into your Fatherly presence
the glory of his triumphant flesh.

4. Jn 19:30. _
5. Mt 27:50.
6. It was a traditional belief in the Middle Ages that the Word became incarnate through the Virgin's ear.

Mat. 2:13-18In today’s Gospel, "Rachel wept for her children because they were no more".

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Nivard
Sent: Tuesday, 27 December 2011, 11:21
Subject: Holy Innocents 2011

Daily Reading & Meditation (Adapted)
Wed Dec 28: Scrip. Mat. 2:13-18In today’s Gospel, "Rachel wept for her children because they were no more".

These innocent children and their parents suffered for Christ. Suffering, persecution, and martyrdom are the lot of all who follow Jesus Christ. 

There is no crown without the cross.

Jesus exclaimed that those who weep, who are reviled and persecuted for him are blessed. The word blessed describes a kind of joy which is serene and untouchable. It is self-contained and independent from chance and changing circumstances.  The Lord gives us a supernatural joy. This joy helps us to bear any sorrow or pain. Neither life nor death can take it away. Jesus promised his disciples that "no one will take your joy from you".    

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Nunraw News

Sancta Maria Abbey:  
Blogspot :

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Raymond .....

Sent: Sunday, 25 December 2011, 10:21
When we consider all the characters involved in the Christmas Story we find first, of course, The Divine Infant, Jesus himself, the focal point of it all.  Then there is, Mary his Mother and Joseph, his foster father.  Then, outside of the Holy Family, we find the Shepherds, the first to learn the glad tidings; and then there were the Angels, who first proclaimed these glad tidings. Then, there were the Magi who came from some distant lands to worship the new-born King.  Then unfortunately, we have to a knowledge the presence of the tyrantHerod and his soldiers, and this brings us lastly to the Holy Innocents and their weeping Mothers.  This pretty well sums up, as far as I can remember at the moment, all the characters in the great Christmas drama.
Next, we can consider that this point in time is the culmination of centuries of revelation gradually unfolding the plans and purposes of God; his plans for taking his own place to come and live among us and his plans to bring our human race into a share in his own divine life.   So it follows that all these different characters, as they come into contact with the Divine Child, must represent the different responses of a complete cross section of humanity to God’s unspeakable gift.  There is something universal in time and space about the story of Christ’s birth.  There is something universal in the significance of each of the characters we find involved in it.  The Shepherds are the most easily recognisable.  They representing the poor and the simple; all the have-nots of this world; the weak and the helpless.  In these poor and simple shepherds we see a living commentary on the Bible.  In so many of its stories it reveals that God resists the proud and draws near to the humble.  The Magi represent all those who have not had the fullness of revelation but who come close to God and find him through the uprightness and innocence of their lives.
The Holy innocents are representative of all those who, through no fault of their own, suffer at the hands of the wicked.  But, perhaps, and even especially because of their obvious lack of personal merit, they represent the ultimate nature of God’s grace – it is, in every case, whether in them or in us who have had to fight the good fight – it is ultimately in every case an absolute free gift of God.  The great sorrow and weeping of their Mothers of the innocents  reminds us that all things, no matter how tragic, and painful, are caught up in God’s plans and purposes.  “All things work together unto good for those who fear the Lord”, even the doings of the Herods of this world.
The presence of The angels, who appear so often in the infancy stories,  tells us that Jesus is Lord, not only of men but also of angels and both they and we are called to be one great heavenly kingdom; one great family of  God.  Both our destinies and theirs are inseparably intertwined.
Joseph, in a way, represents all of us, taking our own little part in God’s plans; following blindly the paths his Providence opens up before us.  We all walk in ways that are above us and beyond us to comprehend.  And finally, we come to Maryherself.  She stands, alone and unique, in the greatness of her response to God’s intervention in her life.  We can only guess at the purity of insight she had into the import of the angel’s message.  We can hardly imagine the greatness of her faith, her astounding faith in the reality and truth of God’s promise that was being made to her;  we can only wonder at the depth of her humility before the greatness of what she was being called to.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Fr. Z's Blog 21 Dec 2011

Fr. Z's Blog – What Does The Prayer Really Say?

Slavishly accurate liturgical translations & frank commentary on Catholic issues – by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf o{]:¬)

21 December 2011

WDTPRS: Last Days of Advent: 21 December – “majesty which transforms us”

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Here is the Collect for 21 December.  Remember, that in the Novus Ordo, the Last Days of Advent, from 17-24 December, shift in focus in the Collects to images of light and glory, moving the listener to attend to the great mystery about to be celebrated.  The prayers are in substance from the ancient Rotulus of Ravenna.
Preces populi tui, quaesumus, Domine, clementer exaudi,
ut, qui de Unigeniti tui in nostra carne adventu laetantur,
cum venerit in sua maiestate,
aeternae vitae praemium consequantur.

This prayer is similar to a Post Communion in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary during the “tenth month” (“Decem”-ber). Remember that laetor is deponent.
Graciously hear the prayers of Your people, we beseech You, O Lord,
so that those who are rejoicing about the Coming of Your Only-Begotten in our flesh,
may attain the reward of eternal life
when He will have come in His majesty.

As we have seen many times, the prayers of Advent look in two directions, back to the historic moment of the Nativity of the Lord and also forward to the moment when He will come in glory to judge the living and the dead.
The prayer juxtaposes caro (“flesh”) and maiestas (“glory” or “majesty”). The maiestas here refers to the characteristic of God we see at times revealed in Scripture as, for example, when Moses encounters God in the cloud on the mountain or in the tent of the ark. The encounter with God’s majestic glory (Greek doxa, Hebrew kabod) transforms Moses flesh so that it is so bright that he must wear a veil over his face. The Lord, when He comes, will transform everything in His presence and our sight of Him in the bosom of the Trinity in the Beatific Vision will transform our human flesh forever.
The prayer is also careful to link joy with prayer, as if prayer would be a sine qua non for joy.
Rhetorical question alert:
Can someone who does not pray truly be happy?
Listen with clemency, we pray, O Lord,
to the prayers of your people,
that those who rejoice at the coming
of your Only-begotten Son in our flesh
may, when he comes in his glory,
receive the reward of eternal life.

Hear in kindness, O Lord,
the prayers of your people,
that those who rejoice
at the coming of your Only Begotten Son in our flesh
may, when at last he comes in glory,
gain the reward of eternal life
                                                                         With thanks to Fr.Z.

Advent 4


Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Great O Antiphons: "O Oriens"

The Great O Antiphons
December 21: "O Oriens"

These Great "O Antiphons" at the Magnificat were first used by the Church in the 8th and 9th centuries.
They are said in order, based on various titles for the Christ and are scripturally-based short prayers for the 17th to the 23rd of December.
In these "O Antiphons" the Church expresses her deep longing for the coming of the Messiah.

Christ, the Resurrection and the Life
(See Luke 1:78, 79; Malachi 4:2)
O Oriens,
splendor lucis aeternae,
et sol   justitiae:
veni, et   illumina
sedentes   in tenebris,
et umbra   mortis.
O Dawn,
splendor of eternal light,
and sun of justice,
come, and shine
on those seated in darkness,
and in the shadow of death.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Advent Wreath 4


----- Forwarded Message -----
From: DGO
Sent: Monday, 19 December 2011, 17:02
Subject: The Daily Gospel


Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The Great O Antiphons: "O Clavis David"

The Great O Antiphons
December 20: "O Clavis David"

These Great "O Antiphons" at the Magnificat were first used by the Church in the 8th and 9th centuries.
They are said in order, based on various titles for the Christ and are scripturally-based short prayers for the 17th to the 23rd of December.
In these "O Antiphons" the Church expresses her deep longing for the coming of the Messiah.

Christ, harrower of hell
(See Isaiah 22:22; Revelation 3:7)
O Clavis   David,
et   sceptrum domus Israël,
qui   aperis, et nemo claudit,
claudis,   et nemo aperuit:
veni, et   educ vinctum
de domo   carceris,
sedentem   in tenebris,
et umbra   mortis.
O Key of David,
and scepter of the house of Israel,
you open, and no one shuts,
you shut, and no one opens:
come, and lead the prisoner
from jail,
seated in darkness
and in the shadow of death.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Catholics and ‘the Rapture’. Thinking Faith Article

Catholics and ‘the Rapture’

Sr Cathy Jones RA

Photo by Lord Jim at

The gift of the Incarnation is the foundation of the hope that nourishes our faith during the season of Advent. But as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, we might ask ourselves how we engage with a belief in the Second Coming of Christ, something which is often radicalised and even distorted in popular discourse, and as such may not be a strong tenet of faith for many Catholics. Sr Cathy Jones asks if there is a place for belief in ‘the rapture’ in the Catholic consciousness.

Catholics affirm their belief in Christ’s Second Coming each time they attend Mass or whenever they recite the Creed. The belief that this present world will come to an end and that Christ will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead is an essential part of Christian doctrine, founded on the unambiguous words of Jesus Himself.[1] However, I am sure I am not the only Catholic who would say that this essential aspect of our faith has little impact on my everyday life as a Christian. Faced with such a great ‘mystery’ as the end of the world, or Christ’s Second Coming, it is all too easy to put it to one side and not take the time and effort to reflect upon it.    

Major Days of Advent 17 December

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: DGO
Sent: Friday, 16 December 2011, 17:02
Subject: The Daily Gospel


Saturday, 17 December 2011

The Great O Antiphons: "O Sapientia"

The Great O Antiphons
December 17: "O Sapientia"

These Great "O Antiphons" at the Magnificat were first used by the Church in the 8th and 9th centuries.
They are said in order, based on various titles for the Christ and are scripturally-based short prayers for the 17th to the 23rd of December.
In these "O Antiphons" the Church expresses her deep longing for the coming of the Messiah.

Christ, Wisdom and Creator of the world
(See Proverbs 1:20; 8; 9 and I Corinthians 1:30)
O Sapientia,
quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,
attingens a fine usque ad finem fortiter,
suaviterque disponens omnia:
veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.
O Wisdom,
who proceeds from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching out mightily from end to end,
and sweetly arranging all things:
come to teach us the way of prudence.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Contemplation Art

Thank you, Kieran,
Fascinating subject and the story.

From: Kieran . . .
Subject: National Galleries of Scotland - Collection - Artists A-Z
To: . . .
Date: Thursday, 15 December, 2011, 10:51

  • Tricia Malley
Tremendous Reality1993
This photograph is one from a commission undertaken by Tricia Malley for the first Scottish International Photography Festival, Fotofeis. It addressed the theme of 'family,' from a different angle, and looked at people who chose to be together. Her subject was the community of Cistercian Brothers at Nunraw Abbey, in Garvald, East Lothian. Malley took a combination of individual portraits, addressing both the spiritual and practical life of the isolated community. Here, the simplicity of the monastic dress and of the wooden crosses is emphasised and made strange by the mist and the impression of a chill wind.   

Between the first and second silence ... only one Word was uttered . . . is Jesus Christ.

Third Week of Advent THURSDAY
First Reading  Isaiah 32:15 - 33:6
Responsory                                      See Ps 29:11; Is 40:10
The Lord will come down to us, radiant with glory and power. + He will visit his people in peace and give them everlasting life.
V. Behold, our God is coming. + He will visit ...

Second Reading
From a sermon by an unknown writer (Hom. XLI infra Opera Pauli diaconi: PL 95,1177-1178)

Three periods of silence
When all was wrapped in peaceful silence, and night in its swift course was now half gone, your almighty Word leaped down from heaven, from your royal throne.
There are three periods of silence: the first was when people were unaware of their sickness, the second when they despaired of healing, the third when they are restored to health. The first silence was before the law was given, the second between the time of the law and that of grace, the third will be after this present life.
The first silence, then, was when people were silent because they were unaware of their sickness, and so failed to search for a remedy. But when the law came and showed the sick their wounds, the silence was immediately broken and the sick began to seek healing. However, because they sought to be healed by works of the law, in which there was no salvation, they could not find what they were looking for. And so at last, realizing that no one can be justified by works of the law and almost worn out by their cries of supplication, they despaired and ceased to speak any more, and there followed the second silence.
Then the omnipotent Word of God the Father came in a human body and broke the silence, spoke of peace, gave grace, preached mercy, and promised forgiveness, and the sick began to run to the physician. With a great cry, so to speak, they begged for salvation, their hearts filled with pure faith and their mouths with true confession.
So it is that now, in this present life, we are saved by the grace of God, but when our health is fully restored, and we are brought to the bliss of immortality, there will be nothing more to ask for. Then will follow the third silence that will never end.
Between the first and second silence many words were spoken, but between the middle and the last silence only one Word was uttered. Many were the words, numerous the precepts of the law given through Moses, but the grace of God that comes through Jesus Christ, or rather which is Jesus Christ, is one Word. Moses the servant of God uttered many words, made many speeches; God the Father sent one Word, a single utterance. The words of Moses were not omnipotent, for they could not do what they said. So it was that they at last fell silent since they had not fulfilled their promises. Then came the omnipotent Word of God, who not only said but did whatever he wished. This voice, this Word, still speaks when his promises take effect in believers. And when he has fulfilled the promises he will as it were cease to speak: as there will be nothing more to ask for there will be eternal silence.

Responsory                                       See Is 33:22; Ps 97:1
The Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our King.
+ The Lord will come to save us.
V. The Lord has reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many islands be glad. + The Lord will ...

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Advent 3 Wednesday

From: Nivard . . .
Subject: The blind see
To: nunraw . . .
Date: Wednesday, 14 December, 2011, 8:23

Wed (Dec 14): St John of the Cross
"The blind see. The lame walk. The Good News is preached to the poor."  Luke 7:18-23
     The miracles of Jesus and his preaching of the Good News directly fulfilled what the prophets had foretold. 
     Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would come in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus brought freedom to those oppressed by sin and evil. He came to set people free from the worst tyranny possible. That is, the tyranny of slavery to sin, the fear of death, and the destruction of both body and soul.
     Only God's power can save us from emptiness and poverty of spirit; from confusion and the fear of death and hopelessness.
      The gospel of salvation is "good news" for us today. Let us rejoice in the joy and freedom of the gospel?
     Father, Fill us with the joy of the gospel: inflame our hearts with love  for you and for your holy will"
(see Isaiah 29:18-19; 35:5-6; 61:1). (see Isaiah 61:1-2).

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Advent Gaudete Sunday Dec 11, 2011

By John Mallon
Catholic Online
  The Third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete Sunday, the 'pink candle' Sunday, the Sunday we light the pink candle on the Advent wreath. Gaudete is the imperative plural form of the Latin verb gaudere (to rejoice). It is a command ordering us to rejoice! In these days of penance and preparation leading up to the feast of our Savior's birth, it reminds us of the joy that is to come, and serves, amid this season of penance, as a kind of 'break' when we recall the hope we have because of the coming of Jesus.
In Advent, we not only celebrate the first coming of our Lord, but eagerly prepare for His Second Coming as well, when the restoration of all things takes place. Too often many of us shudder at the thought of our Lord's coming in glory, as if it were a frightening event—and certainly it will be for those who knowingly rejected Jesus. But for Christians who persevere it will be our great deliverance from the troubles and trials of this world. All the world will bend the knee—some in terror—but as for God's friends, they will bend the knee in joyful adoration as Jesus takes His place as King. The earliest Christians cried 'Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!' expecting Jesus to come at any moment. So should we—we should long for His return with our lamps trimmed and our souls ready. It is indeed something to celebrate—and prepare for. Advent turns our hearts and minds to this reality.
Should commercialism or the evils of the world get us down we need to look at the Advent wreath with its candles burning down patiently, a new one each week in the spiral they create, going down as we light the pink one this week which fills us with joy that we are getting closer and closer to the coming of the Lord. We can place ourselves on the hillsides with the shepherds in the silent chill with patient anticipation of they-knew-not-what until the angel told them. We can imagine the three wise men silhouetted in the brightness of the Christmas star. And then we can meditate on being in that stable with the smell of straw, animals, and a beautiful Newborn Who is our hope. We can let our burdens drop away at the foot of the manger when He smiles at us. We can receive Him into our arms and hearts as Mary holds Him out to us as the gentle Joseph looks on. This Child is our victory. 
John Mallon is contributing editor for Inside the Vatican magazine. This article originally appeared in The Sooner Catholic on December 15, 1996.  John can be reached at

Pod Cast

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Advent Elijah and John Mt. 17:9-13

Immaculate Advent
----- Forwarded Message -----
From: William . . .
To: Donald . . . 
Sent: Saturday, 10 December 2011, 7:54
Subject: Elijah and John

Dear Father Donald,
Today's DGO commentary on Mt 17:9-13 draws some delightful parallels between Elijah and John. As people say nowadays, "it's all in the detail"!
. . . in Our Lord,


Saturday, 10 December 2011

Saturday of the Second week of Advent

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew17:9a.10-13.
As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, "Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead."
Then the disciples asked him, "Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?"
He said in reply, "Elijah will indeed come and restore all things;
but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased. So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands."
Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.

Commentary of the day :

Saint Aphrahat (?-c.345), monk and Bishop near Mosul, saint of the Orthodox churches
The Demonstrations, no. 6, 13 

"Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist"
Our Lord bore witness that John is the greatest of the prophets, yet he received the Spirit according to a certain degree since John received a spirit like that of Elijah.

Just as Elijah went to dwell in solitude so God's Spirit led John to dwell in the wilderness, mountains and caves. A raven flew to Elijah's help by feeding him; John ate locusts. Elijah wore a leather belt and John wore a leather loincloth round his hips. Elijah was persecuted by Jezebel; Herodias persecuted John. Elijah rebuked Ahab; John rebuked Herod. Elijah divided the waters of the Jordan; John opened up baptism. Elijah's double measure of spirit came to rest on Elisha; John placed his hands on our Lord, who then received the Spirit without measure (Jn 3,34). Elijah opened heaven and went up; John saw the heavens opened and the Spirit of God descending and resting on our Savior.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Botticelli Virgin

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Thursday, 08 December 2011 -
Fr. Raymond Homily

----- Forwarded Message -----

From: Raymond . . .
To: Nivard . . .
Sent: Thursday, 8 December 2011, 9:42
Subject: Immaculate Conception

In the beginning God created this world as a beautiful garden. And then, as the climax of his work he created man. Male and female he created them; and he looked and saw that it was good - it was very good.  He took great pleasure in the wonderful work of his hands.
This teaching that comes to us from revelation gives us a picture of the human race as being the very climax of God’s creation – his masterpiece as it were; something in which he delights.­ Now if we want to injure someone in some way we can do it very effectively by harming someone in whom he delights; by spoiling something he holds most precious to himself.  This was the mentality of the jealous Satan when he tempted our first parents.  He was out to spoil God’s masterpiece.  And unfortunately he seemed to succeed in doing just that.  He made of us a fallen race.  From that time on, it would seem, God’s masterpiece, no matter how it might be restored, was always something that had been tarnished.  But God’s plans and purposes are not upset by anyone, not even by the one, who, since then, “has claimed power to sift us as wheat”.
God’s masterpiece was still destined to be found untarnished, pure and perfect and unsullied. And this was to be accomplished as we all know in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. “Our tainted nature’s solitary boast” as the poet so beautifully put it.  Nor was this perfect creature of God’s fashioning merely a “restoration” of his handiwork.  No, the first Adam and Eve, The Adam and Eve of time, the Adam and Eve of nature, were long preceded in the mind of God by the Adam and Eve of Grace.  Before ever the world began, the Scriptures tell us they were decreed in the great plan of the Incarnation of the Word, the Wisdom of God.  This great plan and purpose of God was untouchable by any created power and it swept, and is still sweeping, down all the centuries of human history, advancing inexorably to it final conclusion.  A conclusion that is still to be consummated in the apocalyptic image of the pregnant woman, still threatened by the eternally-frustrated dragon, but standing eternally on the moon and clothed eternally with the sun.

Atlas Martyrs - Biographical Notes

The Cistercian - Trappist Monastery of Our Lady of Atlas in Algeria.

Dom Christian de Chergé O.C.S.O.
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Birth: Jan. 18, 1937
Death: May 21, 1996

Dom Christian de Chergé OCSO., fifty-nine years old, was the Father Prior of the Cistercian - Trappist Monastery of Our Lady of Atlas in Algeria. He was one of the Seven Trappist Monks who died by assassination at the hands of terrorists on May 21, 1996. Entering Atlas in 1969, and made his Novitiate at the Abbey of Aiguebelle.

Father Christian's first experience of Algeria was growing up in that country as a child for three years while the 1939 war raged in Europe. One of his brothers tells that at that time Christian was impressed by the way in which Muslims prayed to God: "Our mother never ceased saying to him that they prayed to the same God as he did." Early impressions and love for Algeria were revived and reinforced much later during twenty-seven months of national service in the middle of the Algerian war of independence. It was during this period that his love of Algeria became rooted and the rest of his life marked by an experience he had. He was posted in a village of the Special Administrative Section. He had made friends with a young Algerian rural policeman. One evening they were walking together when they were attacked by some nationalists of the FLN. The young Algerian interposed his body to protect Christian, and they got away. The young Algerian had saved his life, but two days later his body was found with his throat cut. Christian never forgot this incident.

Christian, born in 1937, was the son of a distinguished French general. In this family of the old French nobility he and his seven brothers and sisters were formed in the active practice of their religion. At an early age he became aware of his vocation, and at twenty he entered the Séminaire des Carmes in Paris. "From the beginning," recounts a contemporary and friend, Claude Bressolette, "one was impressed by his natural distinction and reserve. Little by little, behind the smile and the gentle regard, one discerned what I can only call an elegance of heart." He recalls that friendship was the subject of their dissertations, and that Christian's had great spiritual depth.

This gift of making friends characterized his relations within his extended family and led to ever widening contacts and friendships within the Cistercian Order. He was invited to share his experiences with the Monks and Nuns directing Novices in France. He spoke every Sunday by phone to his friend, Dom Étienne Baudry of Bellefontaine, during those last critical months. He had a special affinity with the Community of Latroun because of their common Arab - Muslim context. In 1984, he attended the General Chapter in Holyoke, USA., and he made new friends among American Monks, for he spoke English in addition to French and some Arabic. He wrote to Abbot John Eudes Bamberger of Genesee for his feast day: "This is a good occasion for a big thank you for all the attention and kindness you showed me during the General Chapter. I have often said since then that thanks to you and through you I have discovered another image of 'America' and the echo of the same authenticity in a very different economic and cultural context." He had been elected Prior of Tibhirine earlier that year. His regular correspondence with the abbot general shows his great feeling for the Cistercian Order. His letters to Dom Bernardo chronicle the deepening community consensus and commitment in the years leading to the Monks' martyrdom.

Christian was a contemporary of Vatican II. He assimilated the theological insights of the great dogmatic and pastoral constitutions. He was a man with a sense of the Church, and after ordination in 1964, he served as Chaplain to the school of the Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre. He had good relations with Cardinal Marty. There was affection, humor, and simplicity in their exchanges. When Fr. Christian felt the time had come and that he had satisfied his obligations to the archdiocese of Paris, he obtained from Cardinal Marty approval to follow his long-cherished calling to Algeria. Visits to the Benedictine Abbey in Morocco since 1961, had helped him to acquire a better understanding of and a better rapport with the land and its people. In his desire to deepen his dialogue he had been studying Arabic and taking every opportunity to meet people with known sympathy for the country of his choice.

Isolated in Islamic territory, the Monastery at Tibhirine depended on Monks' coming from other Communities. The case of Fr. Christian was different. His first choice was to be accepted for Our Lady of Atlas, although it was necessary to make his Monastic Novitiate at Aiguebelle. Besides monastic formation he received encouragement to study the Arabic language and culture for two years with the White Fathers in Rome before he finally settled into the unique role in Islamic-Christian dialogue that came to distinguish his monastery. He actively supported and shared in the Ribât association of dialogue and friendship between the two faith communities. After a lapse of such meetings, Christian invited the group to meet again at Tibhirine in March 1996. For Christian this dialogue was no passing interest. It became the perspective of a wide and deep love. "It is a sort of 'microclimate,'" he said in an address to the General Chapter of 1993, "which frees our faith from all human respect and false reserve. Moreover, there are those values that animate Islam and which we also ordinarily expect to find among monks." Menaced more than ever by being invaded by an armed band on Christmas Eve 1993, Christian felt impelled to compose a letter to the terrorist chief. In it he referred to those common religious values and his one desire to remain in the country of his love:

Our state as Monks binds us to God's choice for us, which is prayer and the simple life, manual work, hospitality, and sharing with everyone, especially the poor...We are very conscious of having received much from Algeria and through her, from this Islam which prompts believers to emulate good actions until the day of the Lord. If, some day, Algerians judge that we are not wanted, we shall respect their desire and leave with very much regret. I know that we would continue to love them all, together, and you among them.

His own preferential choice was to reside there always, with the daily prayer on his lips, "Lord, disarm me and disarm them." Fr. Mounios, the Parish Priest at Médéa, vividly recalls: "He was a man with a fine bearing and of remarkable intelligence. Thanks to his finesse he quickly adapted himself to the local people."

By his bedside after his abduction there was found the book of Sheik Khaled Bentounès, "Le Soufisme, Coeur de Islam". Br. Paul had just brought the book the evening before. It would have been Christian's last reading, in his quest to the end for unity. The book reflects the spirit of the friends of Islam and those who continue in the hope "that we would make our journey together towards God and towards man. This is the urgent concern God has given to us today, and we all pray for it." 
Our Lady Of Atlas Monastery, Médéa
Algiers, Algeria
Plot: Monastery Grounds.

Created by: Eman Bonnici
Record added: Dec 11, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 62787607
Dom Christian de Chergé O.C.S.O.
Added by: Eman Bonnici
Dom Christian de Chergé O.C.S.O.
Added by: Eman Bonnici
Dom Christian de Chergé O.C.S.O.
Added by: Eman Bonnici
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Br Luc Dochier O.C.S.O.
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Birth: Jan. 31, 1914
Death: May 21, 1996

Brother Luc OCSO., born Paul Dochier, medical doctor, eighty-two years old, was one of the Seven Trappist Monks who died by assassination at the hands of terrorists on May 21, 1996. He entered the Abbey of Aiguebelle in 1941, and left for Algeria in 1946.

On the eve of his abduction, the intensity of the threat of violence was too great even for Luc's ever-jovial nature. With utter clarity he wrote to a friend, "We can only exist as men by willingly becoming the image of Love, as manifested in Christ, who, though innocent, chose to suffer the fate of the unjust." This seriousness and clarity of intent are all the more significant in one whose sense of humor remained to the end, overcoming painful attacks of asthma and the fatigue of uninterrupted attendance on the sick in the monastery dispensary. He could gently make fun of misplaced pretensions. His own ideal that nothing is more important than the love of God was exercised with a cheerful spirit. In his words, he was "an oldie, used but not disabused, worn out but not withered." To think of him is to think of a happy person. He had prepared his own burial liturgy to include a tape of an Edith Piaf song with the words "No, nothing - but nothing - no, I regret nothing."

The long life of Br. Luc presents a beautiful, consistent picture set within a clear cut-frame of war, service to others, love of God. Born in 1914, at Bourg-de-Peage, in the Drôme region of France, Luc Dochier found his first vocation quickly in medicine. From his early years at the Faculty of Medicine in Lyons, he kept many friends who later sent him medicines that he needed for his dispensary at Tibhirine. Army service took him as a military doctor to North Africa in 1939. His return to France after this first military experience brought a growing sense of the futility of war and the desire to care for the victims of the conflict. He therefore volunteered to care for the prisoners of war held in German camps. His offer was made with the condition that the father of a large family should be set free. The Germans agreed. Conditions in the concentration camps were appalling, but what disturbed the young doctor most was the treatment of Russian prisoners. He took care of them for months. One of those he came to befriend in this way drew his portrait with a piece of charcoal, a souvenir now all the more cherished by his family.

At his liberation Luc understood that he wanted to save lives and thus to serve God. He decided to join the Cistercians. After some years in formation at the Abbey of Aiguebelle, he left for Tibhirine in 1946. His love story with Algeria and its poor people was to continue for fifty years without interruption except for breaks in 1959 and 1992, when his acute asthmatic condition brought him back to France for treatment. After that, he knew that his condition could only deteriorate, but he insisted on returning to Médéa. He said, "I will retire definitively when health forces me" and obstinately pushed himself to the limits, sometimes seeing up to seventy patients a day in the small dispensary. These people were proud of him and his clinic, "the best managed within 100 kilometers," they would say. He had won a respect and affection that amounted to a veritable personality cult. He was universally referred to as the toubib, the doctor.

Not many have had the uncommon destiny of being kidnapped twice in a lifetime. Luc was abducted with Fr. Matthew in 1959, when the ALN (Armée de Libération Nationale), wanted hostages to bargain for the Imam of a Mosque at Médéa who was imprisoned. They spent a week on forced night-marches, until one day a rebel, just arrived, recognized the toubib who had tended him when he was seriously ill: "Are you crazy, keeping this person? This is the doctor who cares for our people freely." The two exhausted Monks were set free on the main road near Médéa and picked up by an army convoy. Luc, as an asthmatic, returned to France to recover, and Matthew had a break at home in Italy. The toubib did not return until 1964, but the Monastery was not disturbed any more by the ALN.

His seniority among the Monks and his practical apostolate to the sick gave a distinctive style to the extensive influence of "this powerfully good, this truly strong character," as his friend describes him. United with his brothers in the witness of martyrdom, Br. Luc exemplifies the richness and variety of character and embodiment of charity possible in the witness of Christian Community.

"There is no true love of God without an unreserved acceptance of death." 
Our Lady Of Atlas Monastery, Médéa
Algiers, Algeria
Plot: Monastery Grounds.

Created by: Eman Bonnici
Record added: Dec 11, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 62787858

Dom Christophe Lebreton O.C.S.O.
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Birth: Oct. 11, 1950
Death: May 21, 1996

Dom Christophe Lebreton OCSO., forty-five years old, was one of the Seven Trappist Monks who died by assassination at the hands of terrorists on May 21, 1996. Subprior and Novice Master, he entered the Abbey of Tamié in 1974, and left for Algeria in 1987.

The forced entry into the Monastery by the armed guerrilla band at Christmas 1993, was a turning point in his spiritual journey. Fr. Christophe wrote: "This Christmas was not like others. It was charged with significance. Like Mary we keep all these things that have happened. We continue to ask ourselves what has been initiated in our hearts. Like a sword the significance has pierced us."

Christophe is too easily and not very profoundly identified as a "student of '68." As a schoolboy of eighteen, he had his transistor going all day in May 1968, to reports of the student agitators demonstrating in Paris. His regret at not being able to join them was only one link in a restless quest. At the age of twelve, news of the pending death of his grandmother from cancer made him feel rebellious and wish to take her place. He was an ardent person, enthusiastic in whatever he took up. He was the seventh child in a family of twelve children. A precocious religious vocation ended with departure from the junior seminary and, as he was always ardent in his views, total separation from religion. Marxism had its dramatic attraction until, in the middle of a demonstration, he realized in one stroke the futility of his course and how he was being politically manipulated. He was left with nothing to believe in until a chance encounter with the Emmaus movement and Abbé Pierre. Recovering religious commitment he also discovered love through relationship with a woman.

This new awareness could have led him to marriage, the value of which he never denied, but the challenge of love led him to understand that the love deep in his heart was from God and led him to the Church as the place where this love, his vocation, could express itself totally.

Christophe discovered Algeria and the Monastery of Our Lady of Atlas at the beginning of 1970, during his national service. For his National Service he had taken the option for serving the assistance scheme for Algeria, teaching students and helping with handicapped children. A priest friend brought him to Tibhirine on several occasions. The extreme poverty of the neighboring people made an indelible impression. He was sure he would return. In 1974, at the age of twenty-four, after tentative studies for a degree in law, his decision was made. He entered the Monastery of Tamié, Savoy. During his Novitiate, aspirations to radical poverty revived the attraction of Tibhirine, and it was there that he made his First Vows. But for a young Monk the facilities for formation were sparse indeed. The Community was small and elderly. Resources in personnel for teaching were better at Tamié, and the presence of contemporary young Monks provided a better challenge for formation. Christophe spent the next six years at Tamié studying and using his woodworking skills at manual labor. During this time his monastic experience was affirmed and deepened. Later, when he was called to assist the sister Abbey of Dombes in the capacity of Guestmaster, Br. Christophe was described as "a monk of thirty-eight years, happy in this altruistic life, collected, convivial, entirely turned to God."

In 1987, an encounter with Fr. Christian led him to return to Algeria. He brought with him a talent for animating people and bringing them together. In 1990, he introduced his Algerian friends to twenty-eight members of his family who attended his ordination to the Priesthood, and lasting friendships were made. His last visit home to Toussaure, Drôme, was in 1995, for the funeral of his father. To the suggestion of leaving Algeria, he replied: "Why should I have the choice to flee, while the Algerians do not? They are the victims, not us."

The Islamic - Christian interreligious dialogue entered more and more into his prayer, his writing, and his poetry. He felt that he was only beginning to understand:

Not having the linguistic and religious knowledge necessary to enter into dialogue with Islam, I feel called simply to listen. And it is God who is heard in his Word who is sent, who tells me to listen, to welcome all this strange, different reality. To the point of feeling myself responsible: may the Spirit lead it towards the full truth. And if we can make this journey together, so much the better! And making this journey we can speak and be silent. 
Our Lady Of Atlas Monastery, Médéa
Algiers, Algeria
Plot: Monastery Grounds.

Created by: Eman Bonnici
Record added: Dec 11, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 62787945
Dom Christophe Lebreton O.C.S.O.
Added by: Eman Bonnici
Dom Christophe Lebreton O.C.S.O.
Added by: Eman Bonnici
Dom Christophe Lebreton O.C.S.O.
Added by: Eman Bonnici
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Br Paul Favre - Miville O.C.S.O.
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Birth: Apr. 17, 1939
Death: May 21, 1996

Br. Paul Favre - Miville OCSO., fifty-seven years of age, was one of the Seven Trappist Monks who died by assassination at the hands of terrorists on May 21, 1996. He entered the Abbey of Tamié in 1984, and left for Algeria in 1989.

Only a few days before the kidnapping, Br. Paul was at Tamié and spoke to the Community at length and with affection about each of the Brothers in Atlas. On March 26, he flew from Lyon and arrived that same evening in Atlas. He had little time for unpacking his suitcase before he was caught up in the train of events. Ever the practical Monk, his baggage had included a supply of shovels and copper beach shoots for Tibhirine, which means 'garden'.

He had been home to visit his ailing mother. Before parting with the Parish Priest, his friend Père Baud, referring to the risks "down there" he said: "I go back to Tibhirine, come what may." In the presence of others he concealed his fear with an air of black comedy. When his family was astonished at the number of shovels he had bought, he quipped: "It is for digging our graves better!"

The Favre - Miville family originated in Bonvaux, a Chablais village. Paul came into the world at the outbreak of the Second World War. His father was the village blacksmith, and in due course Paul was to set himself up as the only plumber of Bonvaux, extending his work to the Valley of Abondance. He was the ideal plumber handyman, who could be called upon and relied upon for any job. He loved his work, and he sang all the time. He attended to all the demands on him up to the moment he finally, at the age of forty-five, entered the Monastery of Tamié.

But this ordinary workman had a wealth of character and experience. He was drawn into the municipal council and served as Assistant Mayor and as Councilor at different times and he equally fulfilled the role of fireman. He seldom, if ever, spoke of his experience in the national service as an officer in the paratroops in Algeria, but obviously he was also someone who had been smitten with love for that country.

It was not unusual to see Paul in the course of his activities frequently make spontaneous visits to the church. Père Baud, the Curé of Abondance, got to know him and had him do readings at Mass, and he got the impression of a man of deep spiritual depth of character. A good mixer, he could share a drink and a joke, but he had a marked discretion. He was reticent about himself, but it came as no surprise to his three sisters and those who knew him when at last, in 1984, life for him changed completely. At forty-five, the celibate plumber decided to exchange his tools and work dungarees for the monk's habit. He was accepted at Tamié. Four years later the Prior of Atlas, Fr. Christian, came to the Abbey of Tamié. His talk and his personality impressed Br. Paul. Together with Br. Christophe, he rediscovered his old attachment to Algeria and the attraction of "a more radical commitment to live at the level of people who have to struggle." Together they set out for Atlas.

His skills found full scope at Tibhirine. "He had golden hands," someone said of him. He found water for the crops, which the monks shared with the villagers in a co-operative, and set up his own unique irrigation system. Bringing back shoots of copper beach on his last trip, he never lost hope of seeing them flourish in Médéa. His hope in small seeds firmly planted in the earth reflects his own supernatural hope in the "Spirit working deep down in the hearts of men." He asked:

What will remain in a few months of the Church in Algeria, of its visibility, of its structures, of the persons of whom it is made up? Little, very little, probably. However, I believe that the Good News is sown, the grain is germinating...The Spirit is at work, he works deep down in the hearts of men. Let us be willing that he be able to work in us by prayer and loving presence to all our brothers. 
Our Lady Of Atlas Monastery, Médéa
Algiers, Algeria
Plot: Monastery Grounds.

Created by: Eman Bonnici
Record added: Dec 11, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 62788005

Br Michel Fleury O.C.S.O.
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Birth: May 21, 1944
Death: May 21, 1996

Br. Michel Fleury OCSO., fifty-two years of age, was one of the Seven Trappist Monks who died by assassination at the hands of terrorists on May 21, 1996. Entering the Abbey of Bellefontaine in 1980, he left for Algeria in 1984.

Br. Michel was perhaps the most unexpected person of the three Monks of Bellefontaine who quite independently came to their own decision to respond to the appeal for Algeria. Judging by his extremely self-effacing character and his simplicity, this would seem to have been a surprisingly bold initiative for Br. Michel. It was, however, consistent with his hidden dedicated life going back to his childhood. For Michel the hour had struck for him to enter fully into his vocation, "To live in the midst of the poor as a present-day Trappist." He was reaching the goal toward which his years with the Brothers of Prado had been drawing him.

Born in a modest family in Pontchâteau, Loire Atlantique, France, he was in his childhood enfolded by religion, with family prayers three times a day. "A Sunday without Mass was not a Sunday," his sister recalled. He always seemed to find a sense of God's presence in the land. At seventeen he tried his vocation at the Monastery of La Flocellière, in the Vendée. He took up his professional life as a machine-worker in Marseilles and at twenty-seven joined the Brothers of Prado. With them he found the humble kind of life to which he aspired. The best way to support and defend the workers, according to him, was to live among them. He lived in shabby lodgings with some mates in the working quarter of La Cabucelle. Never forward, always deep, equable, Br. Michel shone by his simplicity and gentleness. His sister remarked: "It was impossible to dispute with him." He had worked in factories in Lyon and Marseilles before directing his steps to Bellefontaine in 1980, where he heard the call to Algeria.

At Tibhirine he applied his usual dedication to work in the kitchen and in the house, always calm even when overworked and tired. He spoke little and observed of himself: "Out of the Monastery I am like a fish out of water." His last visit to France was in October 1995. He feared delay by strikes in getting back to Atlas. He excused his haste by quoting a young Algerian he had overheard in the garden saying of the Monks: "We are the birds, you are the branch."

In his own way he prepared his family for the worst eventuality. On a postcard he had written: "Through our windows there is only smoke and fire in the hills and mountains. Until when? To depart? That is a somewhat ambiguous word. If something happens to us, I wish to be in solidarity with the people here. Keep all that I tell you in your prayers. Without a doubt, the hardest to live is yet to come." At the bottom of his letters he always wrote: Inch 'Allah, 'if God wills it', the Muslim commendation to God.

In the abduction, remarkably, Br. Michel took his monastic cowl with him. This garment is worn at formal liturgy and on solemn occasions. Br. Michel's cowl was found on the road to Médéa. He died on his fifty-second birthday. His commitment to God and to the Algerian people was tenacious:

If something happens to us (I hope it doesn't), we want to experience it here, in solidarity with all the Algerian men and women who have already paid with their lives, simply in solidarity with all those unknown, innocent people...It seems to me that He who is helping us to hold fast today is the One who has called us. I remain in deep wonder at this. 
Our Lady Of Atlas Monastery, Médéa
Algiers, Algeria
Plot: Monastery Grounds.

Created by: Eman Bonnici
Record added: Dec 11, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 62788054

Dom Bruno Lemarchand O.C.S.O.
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Birth: Mar. 1, 1930
Death: May 21, 1996

Dom Bruno OCSO., born Christian Lemarchand, sixty-six years of age, was one of the Seven Trappist Monks who died by assassination at the hands of terrorists on May 21, 1996. Superior of the annex house in Morocco, he entered the Abbey of Bellefontaine in 1981, and left for Algeria in 1984, (for a year), and again in 1989.

Fr. Bruno's love of Algeria went back to his childhood. His early years were colonial. He was the son of an army officer, originally from St. Maixent, who was accompanied by his family to Indochina and to Algeria. One of his sisters was buried in Algeria. His own career was very different and home-bound in the center of France. In 1956, at age twenty-six, he was ordained to the Priesthood. After years as Professor of French he became Rector of the College of St. Charles de Thouars (1965 - 1980). Under his direction the College acquired a solid reputation, but he refused to make the College of St. Charles a school for the privileged. He arranged free scholarships for deprived families. He was known as a gentle director, just and never severe. He had a certain reserve, which sometimes gave the mistaken impression that he was distant. It was an open secret among teachers and students that he had a yen for the monastic life. He had a yen for solitude and would make long retreats at the Benedictine Monastery of St. Martin de Ligugé. It was to the Cistercian Abbey of Bellefontaine that he decided to go in 1980. The long-dormant attachment to Algeria was reawakened in 1984, when he heard an appeal for Religious and Priests to go there. He expressed his desire to go to Tibhirine to the Novice Master, and the Abbot agreed to his request. He left for Atlas in August 1984, and came back to Bellefontane in July 1985. He left again for Atlas in March 1989, and made his Solemn Profession there the following year. In October 1990, he was asked to go to the annex house of Fès in Morocco and some time later to lead the four Monks living the Cistercian vocation in that small Community.

It was somewhat by chance that he was at Tibhirine on the March 26, 1996, and was taken captive. It was his first visit in five years. He had come to participate in a vote for the office of Prior. He suffered death in the mountains of Atlas with the brethren among whom he had pronounced his monastic vows six years previously.

He was gentle and just in his actions, composed and reflective in his outlook:

Here I am before you, O my God...Here I am, rich in misery and poverty, and in indescribable weakness; here I am before You who are nothing but Love and Mercy. Before you, but solely by your grace, I am here whole and entire, with all my soul, and with all my will. (Bruno, March 21, 1990). 
Our Lady Of Atlas Monastery, Médéa
Algiers, Algeria
Plot: Monastery Grounds.

Created by: Eman Bonnici
Record added: Dec 11, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 62788114

Dom Célestin Ringeard O.C.S.O.
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Birth: Jul. 27, 1933
Death: May 21, 1996

Dom Célestin Ringeard OCSO., sixty-two years of age, was one of the Seven Trappist Monks who died by assassination at the hands of terrorists on May 21, 1996. Entering the Abbey of Bellefontaine in 1983, he left for Algeria in 1986.

As Fr. Célestin descended from the plane in Algiers, the past came to meet him. Waiting at the foot of the gangway was an Algerian whose life he had saved during the war in Algeria. In 1957, serving in the medical corps, he had cared for a wounded rebel of the ALN and prevented his execution. That terrible memory marked a lasting attachment to Algeria and now, as he returned as a Trappist Monk, it was a very moving moment for Célestin as he was embraced by this man.

At sixty-two his presence here was astonishing. He was beginning a new vocation after a long priestly apostolate that would have filled and distinguished the lifetime of any priest. For twenty years, Fr. Célestin had carried on an intense city apostolate. He had resigned the comfortable Parish of St. Dominique, Nantes, in order to reach out to unemployed youth, alcoholics, prostitutes, and drug addicts. His little blue 2CV car was a familiar sight in the poor quarters, and the kindness of the man, who opened the doors of his flat to the needy and would invite them to spend Christmas there, en famille, was proverbial. He had seen it all, and yet this man remained the most sensitive of persons.

He seemed destined to experience life in its most agonizing situations. At fifty, this caring priest witnessed the suicide of a young homosexual, who threw himself from a window after calling for help. From that moment his thoughts turned more and more to the monastic life until, to the amazement of acquaintances, he entered the silent contemplative life at Bellefontaine. What astonished his friends was how such a temperament could feel at home in a monastery, "considering his need to talk and his urge for relating to people." He tended to speak vividly of his vocation: "Someone had called him to the Order." In the autumn of 1986, there was an appeal for Priests to go to Algeria. Célestin did not hesitate. It was for him, according to a friend, "an interior thunderbolt." He asked to go to Tibhirine and was surprised to find himself joined in this desire by Michel and Bruno of the same Community.

At Our Lady of Atlas, Célestin was able to enhance the liturgy of the small Community as Organist and Choir Master. The tension from the brothers of the mountain caused him, perhaps, anxiety but, like his brother Monks, he embraced them in prayer and in inner peace. He would turn to others, and in Br. Luc he found a certain complementarity, a contrast of personalities - on the one hand the lifelong contemplative accustomed to tending the bodily ailments of poor people, on the other the apostolic pastor, long experienced in ministering to suffering souls. Br. Luc, the old Monk, an avid reader, would share his latest interests with Célestin, who was not much inclined to reading.

The intrusion of guerrillas into the monastery at Christmas 1993, had traumatic consequences for Célestin. His heart condition became acute, and he had to undergo a multiple coronary artery bypass operation. He had only returned to Tibhirine after a long convalescence at Bellefontaine when he was abducted.

The simplicity and harmony of his life is expressed in a letter he wrote in January 1996: "In carrying out my daily duties (and this helps me each day), this morning I sang two little sentences: 'O God, you are hope on the faces of all living,' and 'Wonder of your grace! You entrust to men the secrets of the Father.'" 
Our Lady Of Atlas Monastery, Médéa
Algiers, Algeria
Plot: Monastery Grounds.

Created by: Eman Bonnici
Record added: Dec 11, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 62788175