The archdiocese of Rouen in northern France held a special Mass today to mark the first anniversary of the assassination of an elderly parish priest, Fr Jacques Hamel.
Catholics in France are today remembering the life and legacy of the 85-year-old priest who was killed while celebrating Mass on 26 July last year after two gunmen stormed his church in the town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.
At the exact time that the attack took place one year ago, the Archbishop of Rouen Dominique Lebrun celebrated Mass at the church of Saint Etienne-du-Rouvray. The service was followed by a public commemoration and the unveiling of a memorial stone, with French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe among those paying tribute to the slain priest.
Archbishop Lebrun said that Fr Hamel, whose beatification process is already underway, has left an indelible spiritual heritage for the whole Church and beyond.
The archbishop said that paradoxically, since his death, Fr Jacques Hamel has seemed more alive than ever before. He said while there is still a strong sense of grief and mourning, the priest’s death has also brought together people of very different political opinions.
Archbishop Lebrun said the first fruit of the wound left by Fr Hamel’s death is peace between people, whose hearts are transformed as they perceive that they are united on the same spiritual journey.