69 witnesses will be heard in the next few months for the beatification of father Jacques Hamel, the priest of the diocese of Rouen, savagely killed in his parish church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray while he was officiating Mass on July 26th 2016. The news was given by the diocese of Rouen, where the first hearing of the beatification process was held last Saturday. The postulator, father Paul Vigouroux, speaking to archbishop Dominique Lebrun, spoke of the “reputation as martyr” enjoyed in France and in the world by the Servant of God Jacques Hamel. In the last year since his death, many letters were sent by anonymous people, authorities, Catholic bishops from France and from all over the world, leaders of other Christian Churches, Jews and Muslims. Father’s Hamel reputation as a saint was also felt by Pope Francis, who at a Mass celebrated in honour of the priest in Santa Marta on September 14th 2016, said: “He’s a martyr! And martyrs are blessed, we must pray him”.
“Father Jacques Hamel – the postulator added – lived his priestly life as simply as he could, in the suburbs, both the suburbs of the sprawls of Rouen and the existential suburbs of many of our peers. In a municipality where lots of foreigners live, he had good relationships with the Muslim community”. And just because of his “reputation as a man of faith serving all the population, regardless of their religious background”, the municipality of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray decided to erect a sculpture in his honour in the heart of the city. In taking the floor, archbishop Lebrun explained that the first stage in the process will take place on diocesan level, in Rouen. Then, the second stage in the preliminary proceedings will move to Rome, at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The final decision will be taken by the Pope. At this first stage, the archbishop concluded, the name of father Hamel cannot be mentioned in official prayers as a blessed soul or saint.