The Trappist monk Jean-Pierre Schumacher, originally from a working-class family in Lorraine, the last survivor of the massacre of the Algerian monastery of Tibhirine in 1996, died Sunday, November 21, 2021 in Midelt, in the Moroccan Atlas.

He was one of the two survivors of the attack on the Tibhirine monastery on March 26, 1996, by armed men, during the Algerian civil war. He and brother Amédée (who died in 2008) were not kidnapped during this tragedy, because the kidnappers were looking for seven monks instead of nine that they actually were. The heads of their seven murdered companions were found in a ditch two months after the kidnapping, not far from the monastery.

“Jean-Pierre Schumacher died this morning in serenity at the monastery of Our Lady of the Atlas, in Midelt. He is a simple and fraternal man who knew that his mission was to bear witness to what he lived in Tibhirine “

Father Daniel Nourissat, vicar of Saint-Pierre Cathedral in Rabat

to AFP

The circumstances of this massacre have never really been elucidated. The official thesis put forward at the time by Algiers described a kidnapping and then an assassination, claimed by Islamists from the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) who demanded an exchange of prisoners and did not obtain it, but doubts remain about the possible involvement. Algerian military secret services. Algiers could not bear that the monks could treat wounded rebels or members of their families. According to Father Armand Veilleux, former Attorney General of the Cistercians, “the presence of the monks of Tibhirine singularly embarrassed the military leaders and they had long wanted their departure …”

Hence the idea of ​​the kidnapping which would have been entrusted to Zitouni, an Islamist who became a double agent of the Algerian Military Security (SM). “The intention of those who organized this kidnapping was to have them ‘released’ by the army in the following days”, explained in January 2003 in the newspaper The world Father Veilleux, but the affair would have turned out badly. “Zitouni did not have over all the armed Islamist groups the authority that he believed or wanted to have, or that which the Military Security thought he had”, underlined the former prosecutor of the Cistercians. He would have had his hostages rounded up by another Islamist leader, Abou Mosaâb.

Four years after the tragedy, Jean-Pierre Schumacher moved to Morocco where he became the prior of a small community of Trappist monks of the Cistercian Order in the Moroccan Atlas. Pope Francis had even met him on his apostolic journey. in Morocco in 2019. His seven fellow martyrs of Tibhirine were beatified on December 8, 2019 during a mass celebrated at the Sanctuary of Santa Cruz in Oran.

“He often said that his survival was a call from God to witness, something he did all his life“, Father Daniel Nourissat, vicar of Saint-Pierre Cathedral in Rabat, told AFP.

Originally from Lorraine, son of a working Catholic family, who became a Trappist monk, Jean-Pierre Schumacher was sent to Tibhirine in 1964 by the Bishop of Algiers “to build there a small community established in the middle of a Muslim environment, living poor among the poor”. Monk Jean-Pierre will be buried on November 23 in Midelt in Morocco, according to Father Nourissat.

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