The painted image is familiar; it is based on the photograph that went around the world after the Masstime murder of Fr. Jacques Hamel, by two men declaring allegiance to ISIS.
The posture and clothing are the same, as is the book. What is different is the halo around the head of the slain priest. Absent is the modern microphone and church setting; now, he is timeless; he could be a saint in a cave, or a saint at prayer, with heaven open to him.
Beneath the new image, as sign: “Painted and offered by Moubine, a believing Muslim”. It was offered to the Cathedral in Rouen, France, in memory of Fr. Jacques Hamel.
The painting says it all. As Pope Francis said in recent remarks at World Youth Day, “All the religions, we want peace. Others want war…”
In his homily delivered at Fr. Hamel’s funeral, and found here, Dominique Lebrun, Archbishop of Rouen made a special invitation to Catholics who have been away from the church. This invitation is for all the people, in France and throughout the world:
In tribute to Father Hamel,
we invite you to visit a church in the coming days,
to make it plain that you refuse to allow desecration in the holy places,
to be a witness that violence will not win in your own heart,
to ask for God’s graces for it,
to please light a candle in the church, a sign of resurrection;
to collect yourself there, and to open your heart to what is most profound;
to pray, if you can, to beg for mercy.
August 15, the Feast of the Assumption, will be a most appropriate day. The Virgin Mary will welcome you with all her tenderness.
Let us remember our own mother and pray,
God, do not turn away from the pleas of your children, who look to you!
God, bring to fulfillment in our hearts what your Son Jesus has begun!
If you have been away from church for a long time, perhaps accept this invitation to come back. What better response can we make to the evil of a murder at Mass than to make a return, to make ourselves present and be a witness once again to the greatest act of sacrifice — by which the world is saved and restoration is made possible — the act by which evil already understands its defeat. Light a candle, even if it’s electric, and come pray with your Catholic brothers and sisters again!
The best answer to the death of Jacques Hamel is more and more people coming back to Mass.