A Catholic monk who administered the last rites to a hero French gendarme minutes before he died from wounds caused by a terrorist’s bullet said the officer’s ‘superhuman sacrifice’ had been inspired by his immense religious faith.
Arnaud Beltrame, 44, was gunned down on Friday after helping end a rampage by Islamic State fanatic Redouane Ladkdim around the South West town of Carcassonne.
Ladkdim, 26, was shot dead by police after killing three other people while screaming his support for ISIS.
Father Jean-Baptiste, of the nearby Lagresse Abbey, confirmed the slain officer had a Catholic marriage as he lay in a hospital dying in the early hours of Saturday morning.
On Sunday, mourners gathered at the Saint Etienne Church in Trebes for a service of remembrance of the hero officer.
A Catholic monk said French gendarme Arnaud Beltrame’s (pictured) ‘superhuman sacrifice’ on Friday had been inspired by his immense religious faith
On Sunday, mourners gathered at the Saint Etienne Church in Trebes for a service of remembrance of victims, including the hero officer who died from his wounds on Saturday
Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame, 44, was shot and stabbed after taking the place of a woman whom terrorist Radouane Lakdim had been using as a human shield during his attack on a supermarket in the small town of Trebes on Friday
The monk was a close friend of both the gendarme and his partner, Marielle Vandenbunder-Beltrame, 39, and had been preparing to marry them in church on June 9th.
Father Jean-Baptiste said the couple was extremely devout, and had regularly attended his abbey for religious teaching as they prepared to wed religiously.
Quoting the Bible reference John 15:13 in reference to Lt Col Beltrame, the monk said: ‘He knew, as Jesus told us, that ”There is no greater love than to give one’s life for one’s friends.”
‘He knew that if his life began to belong to Marielle, it also belonged 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.’
Speaking to the conservative French journal Valeurs Actuelles (Current Values), Father Jean-Baptiste said: ‘It was through a chance meeting during a visit to our abbey, which is a Historical Monument, that I met Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame and Marielle, who had just married civilly on August 27, 2016.’
Father Jean-Baptiste, of the nearby Lagresse Abbey, confirmed the slain officer had a Catholic marriage to his partner Marielle Vandenbunder-Beltrame (right) as he lay in a hospital dying
Muslim men and other mourners carry olive branch wreaths as they arrive at the Saint Etienne Church in Trebes in southwest France for a service of remembrance on Palm Sunday
Father Jean-Baptiste, of the nearby Lagresse Abbey, said: ‘Passionate about the gendarmerie, he has always had a passion for France, her greatness, her history, her Christian roots that he rediscovered with his conversion’
‘We got on very quickly and they asked me to prepare them for their religious wedding, which 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 December 16th and we were finalising their canonical marriage record.
Redouane Lakdim, 25, killed four people during the rampage in France
‘Arnaud’s very beautiful declaration of intent [to get married in Church] reached me four days before his heroic death.
‘This young couple regularly came to the abbey to take part in masses, services and teachings, especially to the Our Lady of Cana group. They were part of the Narbonne team. They were here last Sunday.
‘Intelligent, sporty, loud and lively, Arnaud spoke readily of his conversion.
‘He was born into a family who did not practice their faith, but he went through a genuine conversion around 2008, at almost 33 years old.
‘He received his first communion and confirmation after two years of teaching, in 2010.
‘After a pilgrimage to Sainte-Anne-d’Auray in 2015, when he asked the Virgin Mary to meet the woman of his life, he become 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, her Christian roots that he rediscovered with his conversion.’
Police are pictured in the supermarket car park after the terrorist was killed
Masked police officers are pictured at the scene – where the hero officer took the place of a female hostage
The monk continued: ‘By taking the place of hostages, he is probably animated with passion for his officer’s heroism, because for him, being a policeman meant protecting them. But he would have known the incredible risk he took.
‘He also understood the promise of religious marriage he had made to Marielle, who was already his wife and loved him dearly, I’m a witness.’
French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said that Lt Col Beltrame ‘fell as a national hero’ and ‘died for his country’ after heading into the U-supermarket in the small rural town of Trembes.
Mr Collomb said that ‘France will never forget the heroism, bravery and sacrifice’ of the married officer.
How the Carcassonne terror attack unfolded
Prior to the attack: Redouane Lakdim, believed to be of Moroccan descent, was flagged to intelligence services and appeared in a database of radicalised militants.
He was also known to authorities for petty crimes including drug dealing.
Lakdim was incarcerated in Carcassonne some time in 2016, according to Le Parisien, though it is unclear what for.
The paper also reports he was very active on Salafist networks online and was suspected of having made a trip to Syria, though it is not known when.
Morning, Friday March 23: Lakdim, who reportedly lived with his mother and three or four sisters in Carcassonne, is seen walking his little sister to school
Some time before 11am: Lakdim hijacks a car somewhere in his home town.
A passenger in the vehicle is shot in the head and killed while the driver is wounded before the terrorist drives away.
Approximately 11am: The attacker opens fire on four policemen jogging near the edge of town.
One officer is wounded after being hit in the shoulder. Bullets also strike a nearby car, shattering the back window. Lakdim escapes in the stolen vehicle.
Approximately 11.15am: Gunshots are reported at a Super U supermarket in the town of Trebes as Lakdim storms in, taking hostages.
Two people are later shot dead, though it is unclear precisely when or why.
French police initially say a dozen people are wounded, though uncertainty remained around the exact toll on Friday afternoon.
Some time before 2pm: A French policeman makes his way into the supermarket after agreeing to swap himself for a hostage.
He is later wounded, though it is not clear exactly how.
Approximately 2pm: French police storm the supermarket, shooting Lakdim dead.