Pope to honour slain French priest with Vatican mass

popeVATICAN CITY: Pope Francis will celebrate mass on Wednesday in honour of Jacques Hamel, the French priest who died in July after having his throat slit by Islamist militants.

Around 80 pilgrims from the diocese of Rouen in northern France will attend the early morning service in the chapel at St Martha’s, the boarding house where Francis stays.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said Francis wanted to “show his closeness” to 85-year-old Hamel’s friends, relatives and parishioners in the small town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen.

The elderly priest was killed on July 26 while presiding over an early morning mass for a handful of parishioners.

His attackers, Adel Kermiche and Abdel Malik Petitjean, both 19, were shot dead by police. The Islamic State group subsequently claimed they had murdered the priest on its behalf.