An elderly man left for dead by the killers of Fr Jacques Hamel has revealed he was forced to film the horrific murder as it took place inside the church near Rouen.
Guy Coponet, 87, had been attending Fr Hamel’s Mass with his wife when two Islamic extremists, Adel Kermiche and Abdel-Malik Petitjean, burst in and attacked on July 26.
Speaking publicly for the first time, Mr Coponet told the Famille Chretienne, (Christian Family) website: “I had to film my friend Father Jacques’s murder! I can’t get over it.
“They even checked the quality of the image and that I wasn’t trembling too much,” Coponet said.
Mr Coponet was himself stabbed in the arm, back and throat. After waiting 45 minutes for help to arrive, he said he was lucky to survive. He continued: “I was convinced I would die, but…I was calm.
“The emergency medic who treated me told me ‘you had divine protection because the knife attacks missed your vital organs. But it really wasn’t far away – it’s like a miracle’.”
The Copenets say they are able to forgive their assailants, even for the murder of their beloved priest.
“We are just saying, ‘Father, forgive them, they know not what they do’,” the couple said.
Pope Francis has signalled that he is preparing to canonise Fr Hamel, who could be made a saint without needing miracles because he died a Christian martyr.
Sister Danielle, who was also a witness to the murder, said: “His last words were ‘Satan, get out of here, get out, Satan’,”.
But she added that Fr Jacques was not claiming that his killers were possessed, but that “Satan was at work in a powerful way”.
Both attackers were shot dead at the scene by police.
The church at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray is due to re-open at a ceremony on Sunday.