Ten years ago, seven Trappist monks living in a long-established monastery in Algeria, were murdered. This Zenit article recalls the story, from the perspective of another religious, who was present the night the men were kidnapped.
Father Thierry Becker, of the Algerian diocese of Oran, was a guest of the monastery the night that the Muslim fundamentalists abducted Father Christian de Chergé, the prior, and the other six Trappists.
In recent statements to the Italian newspaper Avvenire, Father Becker asserted that he is recounting the legacy of the monks of Tibhirine.
Theirs was "a message of poverty, of abandonment in the hands of God and men, of sharing in all the fragility, vulnerability and condition of forgiven sinners, in the conviction that only by being disarmed will we be able to meet Islam and discover in Muslims a part of the total face of Christ," the priest said.
Here's a link to an excellent book on these monks, their lives and deaths. I reviewed it for OSV at the time, but the review isn't online, I don't think.
In the Algerian case, the monks knew quite well what they were facing. The monastery at Tibhirine, Our Lady of Atlas, had been founded in 1934 as an offshoot of the Yugoslavian Abbey of Our Lady of Liberation. Though Atlas went through ups and downs, like any monastery, it had committed itself to a continuous witness among the people of Atlas for over half a century of Algerian history, including the most troubled periods. Indeed, one of the most touching statements about their feelings toward the area emerged immediately after the Christmas Eve 1993 visit when the guerilla fighters wanted the monastery to give them medical, financial, and logistical support in exchange for security. On the government side, the Wali, or prefect, of the nearby town of Medea offered the monks military protection or at least a more secure place to live within the city. The Trappists turned down both offers, however, because they preferred being a sign of peace to all sides even at the risk to their own safety. But they also pointed out that even temporary transfer to the prefect's protection might make it impossible to return and "our neighbors would not understand."
So they remained in the monastery with basically no change in their way of life. The only modifications in policy that they voted for were to offer medical aid to all comers at the monastery itself, to reduce for the moment the number of monks, to halt taking on new novices for the time being, and, in case of emergency, to move to Morocco instead of France, so that they could return as soon as conditions allowed. Their commitment to being open witnesses to God's love was so firm that they even turned down an offer by the apostolic nuncio to move the monastery within the nunciature. The following year they voted again to confirm their commitment to be living witnesses of God's love in Algeria—through prayer, a simple life, manual labor, and openness and sharing with everyone, especially the poorest.