The Mass at Casa Santa Marta was a bit different on Wednesday morning. The pope celebrated the Mass in honor of Fr. Jacques Hamel, the French priest slain in his Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray parish by two terrorists, who acted on behalf of Daesh.
His portrait was displayed on the altar at the request of Pope Francis. There were about 80 pilgrims from the diocese of Rouen who came with their bishop, Dominique Lebrun, to particpate in the Mass.
The pope explained that Fr. Jacques Hamel is part of the chain of martyrs that began with the personal sacrifice of Christ. He said that this cruel persecution against Christians is satanic, and additionally, he made a request.
"How I would like for all religions to declare: Killing in the name of God is satanic! Fr. Jacques Hamel was slaughtered on the cross, while he was celebrating the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. A good, meek man, of brotherhood, who always was always working toward peace, was assassinated, as if he were a criminal. This is the thread of satanic persecution. This man has accepted his martyrdom with the martyrdom of Christ on the altar."
The pope confessed he was moved by the attitude of the old priest, especially when he was approaching his tragic end.
"One thing that really makes me think is that in the midst of the difficult time he lived through, in the midst of this tragic end he foresaw, he did not lose his clarity and he accused and said the name of his assassinator. He clearly said: 'Be gone, Satan!' He gave his life for us, so he would not deny Jesus. He gave his life in the same way Jesus [does] on the altar. From there, he accused the chief persecutor: 'Be gone, Satan!'"
Finally, Pope Francis said the life and death of Fr. Hamel is an example for all Christians. He invited all to pray for his intercession, because he is a martyr who is now in Heaven.