Pope Francis has recognised 20 new martyrs, including a young Romanian woman who died resisting rape and a French bishop who worked for Christian-Muslim dialogue in Algeria.

Seven Trappist monks and 11 other religious men and women killed by extremists in Algeria in the 1990s have also been recognised as martyrs.

Veronica Antal was a Romanian lay member of the Secular Franciscan Order. She died in 1958 at the age of 22 after a young man stabbed her 42 times in a cornfield when she resisted rape. She had been returning from church when she was attacked. When her body was found she was clutching her rosary in her hands.

Bishop Pierre Lucien Claverie of Oran, Algeria, was killed with his friend and driver Mohamed Bouchikhi by a remote-controlled bomb in 1996, during the bloody conflict between government forces and Islamist rebel groups which left tens of thousands of people dead.

In the 1970s Bishop Claverie had run an institute for the study of classical Arabic and Islam, which was attended by both Christians and Muslims. When he was appointed Bishop of Oran in 1981 he created lib­raries, educational centres for women and rehabilitation centres for handicapped people. At his funeral he was called “Bishop of the Muslims”.

Seven Trappist monks, who had been kidnapped from the monastery of Tibhirine, Algeria in 1996, were beheaded by a group of Islamic terrorists trained by al-Qaeda. The monks’ story was told in the film Of Gods and Men, which won the grand prize at its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010.

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