Martyred French Police Officer Was a Devout Catholic

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by Alexander Slavsky  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  March 26, 2018   

Lt. Col. Arnaud Beltrame regularly attended Mass at the Lagrasse Abbey

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TRÉBES, France (ChurchMilitant.com) - A high-ranking French police officer is receiving praise for his commitment to God and country after sacrificing his life for another.

Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame died Saturday after voluntarily taking the place of a female hostage during a terrorist attack on the Super U supermarket in Trèbes (southern France) on Friday. He was shot and stabbed by a jihadist, Radouane Lakdim, professing allegiance to ISIS. Lakdim stormed the supermarket, killing two people and taking others as hostages. 

Beltrame was deputy chief of the Gendarmerie Nationale, the anti-terror police, in the Aude region, graduating from France's prestigious military academy, Saint Cyr, in 1999 and serving in Iraq in 2005. He received the Legion of Honour, France's highest military and civil award, in 2012. 

 

The police officer was a practicing Catholic who was to marry his fiancée, Marielle, in June. Beltrame "experienced a genuine conversion" in 2008.
 
"The fact is that he did not hide his faith and that he radiated it, he bore witness to it. We can say that his act of self-offering is consistent with what he believed," said Fr. Dominique Arz, national chaplain of the gendarmerie, in an interview with Famille Chrétienne, a French Catholic magazine. "He served his country to the very end and bore witness to his faith to the very end." 
 
Father Arz continued, "To believe is not only to adhere to a doctrine. It is first to love God and your neighbor and to testify of your faith concretely in everyday life, in the happy or unhappy circumstances and even in the dramatic circumstances of our lives." 
 
Beltrame's sacrifice has been compared to that of St. Maximilian Kolbe, who offered his life in 1941 for that of a fellow prisoner with a family who was condemned to death at Auschwitz. 
 
Father Jean-Baptiste, a canon regular of the Mother of God of Lagrasse Abbey, provided the sacrament of extreme unction and gave an apostolic blessing to Beltrame before his death. The canon had been providing marriage preparation for Beltrame and his fiancée, who both regularly participated in the Masses, services and teachings at Lagrasse Abbey. 
 
He shared a testimony of the police officer following his death: 

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.

Mourners gathered Sunday at Mass in Trébes to commend the souls of the faithful departed to the mercy of God. "A life given cannot be lost. It transcends hardship so as to unite us together. It calls to us to believe that life is stronger than death, in hope, of which our fraternity will be the sign," said Bp. Alain Planet of Carcassonne and Narbonne. 

French President Emmanuel Macron saluted the officer for displaying "exceptional courage and unselfishness," adding that he earned "the respect and admiration of the whole nation." 

Macron announced that the police officer will be honored with a formal ceremony. Flowers were placed in the front of the gendarmerie headquarters in the French city of Carcassone and flags at gendarmeries were flown at half-staff throughout the country.  

"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," remarked Fr. Jean-Baptiste. 
 

 

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