According to Vatican News, Syrian Catholic priest François Murad was killed on Sunday, June 23rd in Gassanieh, in northern Syria, in a convent where he had taken refuge.
Though the circumstances of his death are not fully known as yet, local sources indicate that the monastery where Murad was staying was attacked by militants associated with the jihadi group Jabhat al-Nusra.
Murad, 49, had recently entered religious life with the Franciscan Friars of the Custody of the Holy Land. After being ordained to the priesthood, he had begun construction of a monastery dedicated to St. Simon Stylites in the village of Gassanieh. Once the civil war began, however, the monastery was bombed, and Murad moved to the convent for safety and to offer support to the remaining few members.
Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo, titular of the Syrian Catholic archeparchy in Hassake-Nisibis, reported, “The whole story of Christians in the Middle East is marked and made fruitful by the blood of martyrs of many persecutions.”
“Lately, Father Murad sent me some messages that clearly showed how conscious he was of living in a dangerous situation, and offered his life for peace in Syria and around the world,” he said.