Church of French priest murdered by Islamists to reopen next month

A woman places flowers to pay tribute to French priest Father Jacques Hamel outside the parish church at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen, France where he was murdered in July by Islamist extremists.Reuters

The church where the French priest Father Jacques Hamel was murdered by Islamist terrorists in July is to reopen next month, the diocese has announced.

The church of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray in the Rouen diocese will reopen on 2 October.

The objects left by well-wishers and mourners will become part of a memorial for the priest, said Eric de la Bourdonnaye, communications director of the diocese.

Services will begin again after a purification ceremony.

Five people were taken hostage and the priest was killed on July 26 by two extremists, Adel Kermiche and Abdel Malik Petitjean, who were both shot dead by police. Hamel had served the Church in the ministry for more than 50 years.

The Archbishop of Rouen, Dominique Lebrun, is preparing to launch a cause for the canonisation of Hamel which he hopes will be fast-tracked. Because Hamel is clearly a Christian martyr, he can proceed to canonisation without the need for miracles.

Archbishop Lebrun said: "The death of Father Jacques Hamel is the ultimate testimony of his faith in Jesus, he affirmed to the end. The holiness of recognition procedure... can not begin until five years after the death of the person. Formally, it is the bishop of the person's place of death to initiate the procedure. There is a local phase with a careful survey of the life and death of the person. Then the case is sent to Rome where [it is] studied before the Pope's decision."

British churches are among those that have been urged to be aware of security issues in the wake of the murder.