July 26 marks one year since the brutal murder of 85-year-old parish priest Fr. Jacques Hamel. At the time, news of his death shocked the world. Today, one year later, his legacy lives on.

Fr. Hamel was killed while celebrating Mass July 26, 2016 after two armed gunmen stormed his church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in Normandy.


The assailants entered the church and took the priest and four others hostage. Local law enforcement reported that the priest’s throat was slit in the attack, and that both of the hostage takers were shot dead by police. The attackers were identified as Islamist extremists.

Although the priest was little-known during his life, the courageous witness of his death left a lasting impression on people across the globe.

His funeral Mass was attended by thousands, including government officials and representatives from the Jewish and Muslim communities.

At the funeral, Fr. Hamel’s sister Roselyne spoke about his mercy and love, saying that he had refused to become an officer during his military service in colonial Algeria so that he would not have to order others to kill.

The priest’s witness had had other lasting impacts as well. A campaign launched by the Italian chapter of the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need pledged to support the studies of 1,000 seminarians around the world, in honor of Fr. Hamel.

Earlier this year, the Ermont district north of Paris named a town square after the slain priest, following a unanimous vote.

And last October, his beatification cause was opened, with Pope Francis waiving the traditional five-year waiting period.


To mark the one-year anniversary of his death, the Diocese of Rouen where Fr. Hamel served is planning a Mass, evening prayer vigil and other events.