As civil war erupted in Algeria in 1996, the desert monks of the Monastery Notre-Dame de l’Atlas were urged to leave because of Islamic extremists. They chose to stay so they could continue serving the people near the monastery. Seven of the monks were eventually martyred. Fr. Christian de Chergé wrote a letter forgiving his murderer in advance, calling him “my last-minute friend, you who know not what you do” and hoping to see him in heaven.