Elderly women wield canes to beat back priest's attacker in Canada

Crucifix altar church Mass Credit Calamity Jane Shutterstock CNA Calamity Jane / Shutterstock.

Police are investigating an incident in Edmonton, Canada, after a posse of elderly women beat back a priest's attacker with their walking canes.

It was after evening Mass at Our Lady Queen of Poland parish on March 13, and Father Marcin Mironiuk was outside saying goodbye to parishioners when a young man, roughly 25 years old, approached the priest.

Fr. Mironiuk, who did not recognize the man, reportedly asked him if he spoke Polish. The man said no and reportedly rushed the priest, according to authorities.

Lorraine Turchansky, a spokesperson for the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton, told Global News Canada that the man threw the priest to the ground and started choking him with his hands when the elderly women who were also leaving Mass came to his defense.

"They were quite perturbed by this and shocked, really," Turchansky said.

"They were older women so they're not the kind of people who would whip out a cellphone and take a video or call 911. They did what they could and they had canes. They started striking the guy with their canes."

When the women tried to pull the stranger off the priest, he fled the scene, Turchansky told Global News.

Turchansky said that Fr. Mironiuk was "certainly traumatized" by the incident and spent that night with friends, rather than alone in his rectory. He was otherwise "totally recovered."

CBC News reported that police are investigating the incident, and that the suspect has been described by authorities as a 25 year-old white man with short, dark hair, who smelled of alcohol at the time of the incident.

The attack is one of a series of priest attacks or incidents in Canada. On March 22, several days after the incident in Edmonton, 77 year-old Fr. Claude Grou of St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal was stabbed by an attacker who rushed him during morning Mass.

Grou has since been released from the hospital, is making a good recovery and is "eager" to return to work.

CBC News reported that just two days later, Vermillion priest Father Roger Rouleau experienced a "scare," when a man rushed the altar at a morning Mass.

"He pushed him up on the altar, and in that case, Father Rouleau couldn't help but think about what happened in that horrific attack in Montreal at St. Joseph's Oratory," Turchansky told CBC News.

But it turned out the man "just wanted a hug," Tuchansky said.

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