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Tomb of Martyred French Priest Becomes Christian Pilgrimage Site

The Archbishop of Rouen, France, is encouraging pilgrims to visit the tomb of martyred priest Father Jacques Hamel, who was murdered by two Islamic State radicals while saying Mass on the morning of July 26.

Rouen’s Archbishop Dominique Lebrun will be personally leading the first pilgrimage, and has invited all the faithful of the archdiocese to come pray with him at the priest’s grave in the cemetery at the Basilica de Bonsecours, Rouen.

The pilgrimage will take place next Monday, August 15, on the feast of the Virgin Mary’s Assumption into Heaven.

On the same day, the President of the French Bishops Conference, Archbishop Georges Pontier of Marseilles, will visit Rouen for a Mass inviting universal prayer for France, “which passes through a time of trial.”

On Tuesday, July 26, 85-year-old Father Hamel was celebrating Mass at 9:00am at the church of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray with a few members of the parish when two young jihadists burst into the church and slit the priest’s throat.

In his homily at the martyred priest’s funeral Mass last week, Archbishop Lebrun gave details of the last moments of the priest’s life as he was slain for his Christian faith.

“Evil is a mystery that reaches summits of horror beyond what is human,” the Archbishop said. “Is that not what you meant, Jacques, by your last words? Falling to the ground after the first stab, you try to push away your attacker with your feet saying, ‘Be gone Satan!’”

During the same homily, with members of the Muslim community present, Archbishop Lebrun also addressed those who may be tempted by jihad, telling then that murdering infidels is not a holy act, but a demonic one.

“You who are tormented by diabolical violence, you who are drawn to kill by a demonic, murderous madness, pray to God to free you from the devil’s grip,” he said. “We pray for you, we pray to Jesus who healed all those who were under the power of evil.”

Many thousands attended the two-hour funeral Mass held at the Rouen cathedral, despite the rain and unprecedented security, to pay a final tribute to the martyred priest.

In a separate memorial Mass celebrated for the French priest, Paris Cardinal André Vingt-Trois told the Christian faithful that jihadists “wrap themselves in the trappings of religion” while announcing a “God of death.” The cardinal compared the jihadists’ god to the ancient pagan demon “Moloch,” who exacted live human sacrifices as a tribute.

“Those who wrap themselves in the trappings of religion to mask their deadly project,” Vingt-Trois said, “those who want to announce to us a God of death, a Moloch that would rejoice at the death of a man and promise paradise to those who kill while invoking him, these cannot expect humanity to yield to their delusion.”

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter 

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