Heroic Jesuit murdered in Syria

Fr Frans van der Lugt shot dead in Homs

The last European priest in the Syrian city of Homs has been shot dead.

According to reports emerging from Syria as The Irish Catholic went to press this week, Fr Frans van der Lugt (pictured), 75, who steadfastly refused to leave his tiny Christian community amid the ongoing conflict, was attacked by a masked gunman on the morning of April 7. The priest suffered a beating at the hands of his attacker before he was shot twice in the head.

The Dutch Jesuit garnered worldwide attention in January when he made a video appeal to the world from his church in Homs on behalf of the struggling community there.

In the video, which went viral after its appearance on Yoututbe, Fr Frans offered his eyewitness account of the everyday struggles of people in the city.

“People have nothing to eat. There is nothing more painful than watching mothers searching for food for their children in the streets.

“I will not accept that we die of hunger. I do not accept that we drown in the sea of hunger, letting the waves of death drag us under. We love life, we want to live. And we do not want to sink in a sea of pain and suffering.”

Fr Frans had lived in the Middle East since 1966.

At the time of Fr Frans’ death, the Christian population of Homs stood at 66, down from 60,000 before the civil conflict erupted.