Murdered while celebrating Mass two years ago, his process for beatification will begin earlier than usual thanks to an exception from the pope.
Eugénie Paris, head of the students’ chaplaincies in the Diocese of Rouen, France, was chosen by the Conference of French Bishops to be one of three French representatives at the pre-synodal meeting for the young organized in Rome from March 19 to 24.
She gave Pope Francis a prayer for the beatification of Father Jacques Hamel, the priest murdered in 2016 by two Islamic radicals while he was celebrating Mass.
The pope said he is also praying that Fr. Hamel is someday canonized a saint, explained the young French woman to I.MEDIA.
How did the talk go with Pope Francis?
Handing the prayer for the beatification of Fr. Hamel to Pope Francis was a personal initiative. During the assassination of Fr. Hamel, I was at World Youth Day, so to me he has a close link with the youth. It seemed significant to give the pope this prayer, during the pre-synodal meeting for the young.
It was also the moment to tell him that the young people of France were awaiting something from him and were praying for him. I actually also wrote it on the card that I handed to him.
Pope Francis took my hand and the image of Fr. Hamel and told me in French: “I pray that he becomes a saint.” Exceptionally, he also opened his process for beatification without waiting the usual five year period.
Have you noticed a particular devotion for Fr. Hamel?
In Rouen, the figure of Fr. Hamel features strongly. I look after the chaplaincy of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray [the town where the priest was assassinated] and the connection is obviously very strong. When I published on Facebook that I had been able to hand this prayer to the Holy Father, lots of young people reacted, very happy. And I didn’t give this prayer just to the pope, but also to all the young people participating in the pre-synodal meeting.
Fr. Hamel is often looked upon with compassion, with people saying that they are under his watchful gaze, and that they too pray that he becomes a saint. The beatification process is in progress and will take the time that it needs. But the positive view that people have – and particularly the young – show that he already has the reputation of saintliness.
Translated from French by Cerith Gardiner.