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Normandy to Reopen Church Where Priest Was Slaughtered by Jihadists

French Catholic officials have announced that the church of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, where two Islamic terrorists slit the throat of Fr. Jacques Hamel in July, will reopen in October.

The church has been closed ever since the two jihadists of the Islamic State, Adel Kermiche and Abdel Malik Petitjean, stormed into the sanctuary during Mass on July 26, murdering the 86-old-old priest and taking several hostages.

Now, 10 weeks after the attack, Éric de la Bourdonnaye, communications director for the archdiocese of Rouen, announced that as of October 2 Masses and other liturgical services will resume in the church after a purification ceremony is held.

The Catholic faith considers a murder carried out in a church to be a profanation of the sanctuary, and the church must be “purified” before the sacraments can again be celebrated there.

The communique also states that all the objects that were deposited at the gates of the church in tribute to Father Hamel will be gathered and displayed in a memorial site to be established in honor of the martyred priest.

The priest’s funeral was celebrated at the Rouen cathedral on August 2 by Dominique Lebrun, the Archbishop of Rouen, who declared that Father Hamel should be considered a martyr to the faith.

In his homily at the funeral Mass, 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 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.”

Since then, Archbishop Lebrun has encouraged pilgrims to visit the tomb of the martyred priest and personally led the first pilgrimage on the Catholic feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, on August 15.

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter

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