PARIS -- A public ceremony was held today in Rouen in honor of Father Jacques Hamel, the priest killed in Normandy, France, by two suspected jihadists last week.
About 1,700 people gathered in the Cathedral of Rouen. Hundreds who could not enter the edifice watched the ceremony on a large screen that was installed in front of the cathedral.
The archbishop of Rouen, Dominique Lebrun, celebrated the public ceremony and called for various religions in France to unite.
Jacques Hamel’s sister, Roselyne Hamel, gave an emotional speech. Speaking directly to her brother, she said “Dear God chose you in order to serve others, to cultivate love, to share and to be tolerant with people of all religions. You have done it until your final breath.”
Later, Father Hamel will be buried in a private ceremony attended only by close family members, at a location that has not been revealed. Father Hamel was 85.
The two attackers burst into Hamel's church in Saint-Etienne-De-Rouvray and took the congregation hostage, slashing Father Hamel's throat as he held morning mass. One nun managed to escape and alert the police.
An 86-year-old worshiper was also stabbed.
Witnesses reported that the assailants shouted "Allahu akbar," as they fled the church, at which point they were killed by French police, according to the Paris prosecutor.