By Linda Bordoni
Fr. Jacques Hamel was murdered by extremist Islamic militants two years ago to this day in his parish in northern France while celebrating Holy Mass.
Pope Francis has held up his testimony of faith also as a reminder of all the other Christian martyrs whose blood is shed across today’s world.
It was during Mass in the Casa Santa Marta, celebrated together with the Bishop of Rouen and father Jacques Hamel’s family, that Pope Francis described the slain French parish priest as “a gentle, good man, who fostered brotherhood”.
Father Hamel was brutally murdered by two militants affiliated to the so-called Islamic State while celebrating Holy Mass priest in his Church of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in Rouen.
So today, 26 July, in memory of Fr. Hamel, his diocese has organized a series of events including a “Republican ceremony for peace and fraternity” in the presence also of the French Interior Minister, and a number of religious initiatives. These include the recitation of the Rosary, a silent procession and Mass celebrated by Archbishop Dominique Lebrun at the exact same time as Fr. Jacques’ murder.
Archbishop Lebrun was present during that Casa Santa Marta Mass when Pope Francis called Fr. Hamel one of the many Christian “martyrs” of the Church today. Men and women, he said, “who are murdered, tortured, imprisoned, slaughtered because they refuse to renounce their faith and deny Jesus Christ.”
They form “a chain” the Pope said, which reaches as far as Father Jacques whose cause of beatification was opened in April 2017 thanks to a papal dispensation cutting short the usual five year wait.