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.- Ahead of the beatification Saturday of Bishop Pierre Claverie and his 18 companions, who were martyred in Algeria between 1994 and 1996, Pope Francis said martyrs have a special place in the Church.

“The Church has always paid special devotion to the martyrs, who have faith and love for the Lord Jesus, even to the shedding of their blood as witness,” he wrote in a letter to Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu.

Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Becciu, as the pope’s envoy, will celebrate the Dec. 8 beatification of the 19 Algerian martyrs at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Cross in Oran.

In his letter, composed in Latin, the pope recalled the suffering and persecution experienced by Christ, quoting his words to his disciples that “a servant is no greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”

These words have been confirmed throughout time and place in the persecution and martyrdom of Christians, he continued.

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