On March 31, 2019, Pope Francis met with Brother Jean-Pierre Schumacher, last survivor of Tibhirine, in Saint Peter’s Cathedral in Rabat. The Holy Father bowed before him and kissed his hand.
On the second day of his Apostolic Journey to Morocco, the Pontiff met with priests and men and women religious present in the diocese. In the first row was Sister Ersillia Mantovani, 97, Italian Franciscan, who just celebrated 80 of religious life, and the 95-year-old Trappist monk who survived the hostage taking in 1996, where seven of his Brothers were killed in Algeria.
The two figures received a huge round of applause, and the Pope paid tribute to Brother Jean-Pierre, by kissing his hand. Questioned by Italian television RAI 2 after this meeting, the elderly monk explained that he also kissed the Pope’s hand, describing it as an unforgettable moment.
Seven French Trappists — Christian de Cherge, Luc Dochier, Christophe Lebreton, Michel Fleury, Bruno Lemarchand, Celestin Ringeard and Paul Fevre-Miville — were abducted in March 1996 from their monastery of Our Lady of the Atlas, 80 kilometers south of Algiers. Two Brothers, Amedee — deceased in 2008 — and Jean-Pierre locked in their rooms, escaped the kidnappers. Today Brother Jean-Pierre lives in Midelt, Morocco, in the Monastery of our Lady of the Atlas.
The seven monks of Tibhirine, whose martyrdom was recognized by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on January 26, 2018, were Beatified last December 8.