As further details emerge about the horrific terror attack in Southern France, it has been reported that the police officer who took the place of a hostage and was subsequently killed, was a practicing Christian.
Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame died on Saturday after voluntarily taking the place of a female hostage during Friday’s terrorist attack on a Super U supermarket in Trèbes, southern France. An ISIS-inspired gunman killed Beltrame and three others.
Arnaud Beltrame put himself in harm’s way to save another human being. It cost him his life. We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to this hero. pic.twitter.com/SC8Z2cyQjP
— Frans Timmermans (@TimmermansEU) March 24, 2018
In a tactical move, Col. Beltrame left his phone on as he entered the supermarket so that his colleagues could hear any conversation between him and the terrorist. Tragically, he was shot in the neck by jihadist Radouane Lakdim prior to police storming the supermarket and fatally shooting the Moroccan-born Frenchman.
In an interview with the BBC, Beltrame’s brother Cedric explained how Col. Beltrame knew he “didn’t have a chance,” adding that his heroic actions went “beyond the call of duty.”
“He gave his life for strangers,” Cedric said. “He must have known that he didn’t really have a chance. If that doesn’t make him a hero, I don’t know what would.”
“Arnaud Beltrame died in the service of the nation to which he had already given so much,” French President Emmanuel Macron said, as reported by the Telegraph. “In giving his life to end the deadly plan of a jihadi terrorist, he fell as a hero.”
Beltrame had served in Iraq in 2005 and was the recipient of the Legion of Honour, France’s highest military award. The 45-year-old was also a devout Catholic, having “experienced a genuine conversion” in 2008, according to the Catholic Herald.
“It turns out that the Lieutenant-Colonel was a practicing Catholic,” Fr. Dominique Arz, national chaplain of the gendarmerie, explained to French Catholic magazine, Famille Chrétienne. “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. He served his country to the very end, and bore witness to his faith to the very end.”
Beltrame and his fiancée, Marielle, were preparing for their Catholic marriage ceremony when he was killed in the line of duty.
“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 he had just married civilly on August 27, 2016,” Fr. Jean-Baptiste, a pastor at the Mother of God of Lagrasse Abbey, said in a statement, translated by translated by Christopher Gillibrand.
Fr. Jean-Baptiste went on to explain his friendship with the couple and Beltrame’s conversion, saying that the officer was proud to put all his hope and trust in Jesus Christ.
“Intelligent, sporty, voluble and lively, Arnaud spoke readily of his conversion,” Fr. Jean-Baptiste continued. “Born into a family with little practice, he experienced a genuine conversion around 2008, at almost 33 years old. He received First Communion and Confirmation after two years of catechumenate, in 2010.”
The priest also explained the motivation that was likely to have driven Beltrame’s decision to voluntarily place himself in such a perilous situation Friday.
“By substituting himself for the hostages, he was probably motivated by a commitment to gallantry as an officer, because for him being a policeman meant protecting,” he said. “But he knew the incredible risk that he was taking.”
“Was he right to take such a risk?” asked the priest. “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.”
“His astonishing heroism will, I believe, inspire many imitators, ready to give of themselves to France and her Christian joy,” he added.
Beltrame’s mother said that when she heard the news that a police officer had placed himself in harms way to save a member of the public, she immediately “knew it was him.”
“He’s always been like that,” she explained. “He is someone … who would do anything for his country.”
Following a memorial service on Sunday, the chief of French police, Richard Lizurey echoed these messages of heroism. “It’s an heroic act,” the head of the Gendarmerie said, as reported by the BBC. “In fact an exceptional act, carried out in the heat of action. We are proud. Proud to have counted Arnaud Beltrame among us.”
(H/T: Catholic Herald)