The Blood of Martyrs, the Blood of the Eucharist: Saint Stephen and Fr. Jacques Hamel

The Blood of Martyrs, the Blood of the Eucharist: Saint Stephen and Fr. Jacques Hamel July 26, 2016

David Russell Mosley

The Coronation of St Stephen Datecirca 1597 Medium	oil on copper (PD 100) Source: Wikimedia Commons
The Coronation of St Stephen
Date circa 1597
Medium oil on copper (PD 100) Source: Wikimedia Commons

Ordinary Time
Sts. Anne and Joachim
The Edge of Elfland
Hudson, New Hampshire

Dear Readers,

I don’t normally do two posts in a day, but I was just made aware of the attacks that took place in France so very recently. Fr. Jacques Hamel who was celebrating the Eucharist had his throat cut. “His blood,” as Mary Pezzulo has written, “his blood is still wet and his congregation still bleeding.” She warns us not to be glib as we call him martyr. Of course he is now a martyr for the faith, but we cannot be glib, not as new martyrs are being made in lands we once thought safe. Still, I had to learn more about this man. Reading Mary’s essay and the reports that have been rushing in my eyes welled with tears. How, O God, how can you let others do this in your name! This is your church, your bride, and she is being slaughtered by men who think they know and understand you. Call them to repentance! Call us all to look on you, to look on your Son bleeding for us.

Fr. Hamel was celebrating the Mass at the church Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray. Saint Étienne is Saint Stephen, often called the proto-martyr. Stephen was stoned by those who believed themselves doing the will of God. Fr. Hamel was killed by men who believed the same. It is sickening, the violence. Yet the symbolism is beautiful. If you do not see it, I don’t know that I can explain it, but somehow the death of priest in a church named after no ordinary martyr, but the first, excepting our Lord, is grotesque and beautiful. What is more, that his blood was poured out as he celebrated the pouring out of Christ’s blood, this too is grotesque and macabre and yet beautiful. The blood of the martyr is the blood of Christ. In the early church when persecution was more rampant they believed that one could be baptized in one’s own blood in martyrdom. I can understand that better now, and I wish that I couldn’t.

St. Stephen, pray for us. Fr Hamel, pray for us.

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