An 87-year-old man forced to video the graphic murder of his priest in a church in northern France two months ago has spoken of his ordeal.
Guy Coponet was stabbed three times – including once in the throat – and left for dead, after two young Islamists had used him to help capture their murder of Fr. Jacques Hamel, 85, during Mass at the Saint-Étienne Church in the small town of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, south of Rouen, on 26 July.
“The two young killers grabbed me, put a camera in my hands and said, ‘Grandpa, you film!’” Coponet told the French website, Famille Chretienne, who also interviewed his wife, Janine. “They even checked the quality of the images and made sure I was not shaking, too. I had to film the assassination of my friend Father Jacques! I am still traumatised by it, I can’t move on.”
“They stabbed me three times – in the arm, back and throat,” he added. “The emergency doctor who treated me told me, ‘There was a divine hand on you because none of the stabs hit a vital organ. But they really were not far away. It’s like a miracle!’”
Saint-Étienne Church will reopen on Sunday (2 Oct.) with a special ceremony. Pope Francis has already hailed Fr. Hamel as a “martyr”.