<i>The beatification ceremony, held in the Algerian city of Oran, was the first of its kind in a Muslim nation. The Roman Catholic clergy were killed between 1994 and 1996 during the decade-long conflict.</i>
Nineteen monks, nuns and other Catholics who were killed during Algeria's civil war were beatified on Saturday, in the first step towards becoming Roman Catholic saints.
The ceremony, in Algeria's second city, Oran, was conducted by Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu on behalf of Pope Francis.
During a service attended by 1,200 people, including pilgrims, relatives, and friends of the beatified, Becciu read the official decree stating that the 19 men and women would "from now on be called blessed."
In a message read during the ceremony by Becciu, Francis spoke of his hope that "this celebration helps to heal the wounds of the past and create a new dynamic of meeting and living together."
Read more: Pope Francis honors martyred Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador
"We believe that this unprecedented event in your country will draw a great sign of fraternity in the Algerian sky to the whole world," the pope wrote in a greeting.
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