Paris, France, Aug 15, 2016 / 12:32 pm (CNA/EWTN News) – Following the wave of Islamist terror attacks that have bloodied France since last year, the country’s bishops have decided to offer all Masses on the Feast of the Assumption for France.
In an Aug. 1 communique, the president of the French Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Georges Pontier of Marseille, noted how the Aug. 15 Solemnity of the Assumption has always held “a special place” in the heart of Catholics.
“In this celebration of hope, we suggest that the general intercessions of the Mass that day mention this intention,” he said, and asked that at noon sharp, “the bells of our churches sound” in unison.
“May God bless our country in the trials that she is enduring,” the archbishop said, referring to the recent terrorist attacks that have crippled the nation.
From the Jan. 7, 2015 slaughter of 12 journalists at the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical weekly that has published insulting cartoons of Islam’s Prophet Mohammed, to the Nov. 13, 2015 series of bombings in Paris that claimed more than 100 lives, to the July 14 truck attack that killed 84 in Nice, and finally the brutal July 26 murder of Fr. Jaques Hamel, the French people have suffered much in recent months.
As a response, both the French bishops and the country’s Muslim community have launched several initiatives aimed at praying for France, its people and for Christians.
Friday, July 29, was declared by the bishops as a day of fasting after two armed gunmen stormed a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in the Normandy region of France July 26, slitting Fr. Hamel’s throat as he celebrated Mass.
After the priest’s murder, which was claimed by the Islamic State, Muslims across France and Italy attended Mass the following Sunday in a sign of solidarity with Catholics.
The initiative was created by the French Center for Muslim Worship, which was joined by the Italian Muslim Religious Community.
The dedication of every Mass on the Feast of the Assumption to France and her intentions, then, marks the latest initiative of the bishops in offering prayers for peace and stability.
Dogmatically defined in 1950, the solemnity of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary’s body into heaven is celebrated Aug. 15 every year, and is one of the most important Marian feast days in the Catholic Church.