Saturday, March 24, 2018

The deep Catholic faith of Arnaud Beltrame

Death of Arnaud Beltrame: the tribute of the priest who supported him at the hour of his death

Arnaud Beltrame died giving his life for that of a woman.

Tribute. Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame was a Catholic. He was preparing, with his fiancée, Marielle, to receive the sacrament of marriage from the hands of Father Jean-Baptiste, one of the Canons Regular of the Mother of God of Lagrasse Abbey. It is him who joined Marielle on Friday night, at the bedside of Arnaud, a few hours before his death. He was able to give him the sacrament of the sick and the apostolic blessing in articulo mortis. He then spoke at length with his fiancée before giving him communion. He provides a text, in which he pays tribute to the one who the whole of France celebrates today the heroic act.

Testimony of a Canon of the Abbey of Lagrasse (Aude), the day of his death, 24 March 2018.

In Arnaud Beltrame, the French have received a model.

It is the chance of a meeting during a visit to our abbey which is a historical monument, that I meet Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame and Marielle, who he had just married civilly on 27 August 2016. We got on together very quickly and they asked me to prepare them for the religious wedding that I was going to celebrate near Vannes on June 9th. We spent many hours working on the basics of married life for almost two years. I had just blessed their home on 16 December and we were finalizing their canonical marriage record. The very beautiful declaration of intention of Arnaud reached me 4 days before her heroic death.

This young couple regularly came to the abbey to participate in Masses, services and teachings, especially to a group of residences, Notre Dame de Cana. They were part of the Narbonne team. They came again last Sunday.

Intelligent, sporty, voluble and lively, Arnaud spoke readily of his conversion. Born into a family with little practice, he experienced a genuine conversion around 2008, at almost 33 years old. He received the first communion and confirmation after 2 years of catechumenate, in 2010.

After a pilgrimage to Sainte-Anne-d'Auray in 2015, where he asked the Virgin Mary to meet the woman of his life, he became friends with Marielle, whose faith is deep and discreet. The engagement was celebrated at the Breton abbey of Timadeuc at Easter 2016.

Passionate about the gendarmerie, he has always had a passion for France, her greatness, her history and her Christian roots that he rediscovered with his conversion. By substituting himself for the hostages, he is probably motivated by commitment to his gallantry as an officer, because for him, being a policeman meant protecting. But he knew the incredible risk that he was taking.

He also knows the promise of religious marriage he made to Marielle, who is already his wife and who he loved tenderly, as I witnessed. So? Was he allowed to take such a risk? It seems to me that only his faith can explain the madness of this sacrifice which is today the admiration of all. He knew, as Jesus told us, that "There is no greater love than to give one's life for one's friends. » (John 15.13). He knew that if his life began to belong to Marielle, it was also to God, to France, to his brothers in danger of death. I believe that only a Christian faith animated by charity could ask for this superhuman sacrifice.

I was able to join him at the hospital in Carcassonne around 9pm last night. The gendarmes and the doctors or nurses opened the way with remarkable delicacy. He was alive but unconscious. I was able to give him the Sacrament of the Sick and the apostolic blessing at the moment of death. Marielle responded to these beautiful liturgical formulas.

We were Friday of the Passion, just before the opening of Holy Week. I had just prayed the office of none and the Stations of the Cross for him. I ask the caregiver if he can have near him a Marian medal, that of the rue du Bac in Paris.

Comprehensive and professional, a nurse, stares at his shoulder. I could not marry him as an article awkwardly said, because he was unconscious. Arnaud will never now have children in life. But his astonishing heroism will, I believe, inspire many imitators, ready to give of themselves to France and her Christian joy.