Tomorrow, Pope Francis will celebrate a requiem mass in sign of closeness to the families and to the entire French Community, for father Jacques Hamel, who fell victim to the brutal terrorist attack on July 26. The Holy Father will preside the religious ceremony in the Chapel of St. Martha’s House at 7 a.m.
The director of the Vatican Press Office, Greg Burke, also announced that Mass will be attended by a group of 80 French pilgrims from the Diocese of Rouen, accompanied by their bishop, Monsignor Dominique Lebrun. The Pope’s Mass will be filmed and shown in a live transmission by the Vatican Television Center.
On 26 July, less than two weeks after the attack on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, two men armed with knives broke into the church of Saint-Etienne du Rovray, near Rouen, and killed the pastor – slitting his throat – while the latter was celebrating mass. At first, the two men had been defined as insane, then it turned out that the attack had a terrorist background. They had also taken hostage two believers and two nuns.
“May the Lord inspire us all with thoughts of reconciliation and brotherhood before this new challenge.” Pope Francis had said in a telegram signed by the Vatican Secretary of State, Card. Pietro Parolin, sent to the archbishop of Rouen, Msgr. Dominique Lebrun. “The Holy Father is particularly upset – we read in the message – by the fact that this act of violence took place in a church during Mass, the liturgy that implores God to grant His peace to the world.” The attack in the French Church is the first Islamist terrorist attack against a church in Europe.