The moving documentary about two Algerian nun martyrs
The Order of the Augustinians have released this documentary, “Cari and Esther, Martyrs of Life.” It depicts, with testimonies, the lives of these two nuns and the aftermath of their deaths.
On October 23, 1994, Caridad Álvarez and Esther Paniagua were murdered by Islamic terrorists in Algeria. The country was going through a civil war in which radical groups were attacking civilians. An estimated 150,000 died.
Esther went to Algeria as a nurse, and Cari helped people on the street. Both of them were moved by their faith and, everyone knew them because of their great simplicity.
MARÍA PAZ MARTÍN
“It's wonderful because their stories help bring us closer to holiness. If you look for heroic virtues in the life of Cari and Esther, you will not find any, because they were simplicity personified.”
María Jesús was with them in Algiers on October 23rd . That morning she said goodbye to Cari and Esther and went for a walk.
MARÍA JESÚS RODRÍGUEZ
Provincial Superior of Augustinian Missionaries
“When we were barely 100 meters away, we had to cross a corner to get there. We were right at the other side of the house. Well, we heard two shots. I was a little startled and asked Lourdes, 'What is this?' And she said, 'Calm down, here they shoot many times in the air.' But we were surprised that people from the terraces told us in French and Arabic, 'Sisters go back home.'”
Those shots took the life of Cari and Esther, shocking the entire Augustinian community. The world had its eyes set on Algeria, where dozens died every day.
MARÍA JESÚS RODRÍGUEZ
Provincial Superior of Augustinian
“When I arrived at the embassy, a very nice Arabic style house, I leaned on a pillar, thinking that I was alone and with uncontrolled rage, I shouted, 'That's enough of so much useless death.' And I heard one of the few people in the embassy. He came up to me and said: 'Sister, what did you say?' And I answered, 'The sisters deaths were useless.' And he told me his reflection, 'I have always understood that the death of a Christian is never useless.'”
Despite of the tragedy, the Augustinian community forgave the perpetrators and instead remembered the testimony of love and service that Cari and Esther gave throughout their lives.
In January 2018, the pope announced the beatification of the two nuns, along with 18 martyrs who were also killed in Algeria. It's an opportunity for more people to hear their story.