Yesterday from the BBC:
Tributes are pouring in for a French police officer who died saving the lives of hostages in a supermarket siege by an Islamist gunman on Friday.
Lt-Col Arnaud Beltrame, 44, was shot and stabbed after he traded places with one of the captives following a shooting spree in southern France.
...The radical Islamist gunman, 25-year-old Redouane Lakdim, was eventually shot and killed by police.
Sixteen people were injured, two seriously, in what Mr. Macron called an act of "Islamist terrorism".
…His actions helped bring an end to this act of terrorism that left three people dead. READ MORE HERE
Ladies and gentlemen,
…as we had all guessed already, the supremely heroic Colonel Arnaud Beltrame was, indeed, a traditional Catholic devoted to the old rite… “un tradi” as the French put it.
But of course!
Touchingly, a canon of Lagrasse Abbey – a “tradi” Abbey of the Canons of the Mother of God – celebrated the marriage of the good colonel, on his deathbed, as he wed his fiancée, also a “tradi”. They both participated in the spirituality of the Abbey and were part of the lay community associated with the Abbey.
I would not be surprised if he had been a regular on the Chartres pilgrimage - we always have a few holy Gendarmes attending in their uniforms!
Here, at last, is a real candidate for beatification…!
Let us remember him when, at the Maundy mass on Thursday, we hear again sung those words of our Lord, recorded by St John, the very “maundy” or mandate that we celebrate on that most famous Feast Day of Holy Charity:
Hoc est praeceptum meum, ut diligatis invicem, sicut dilexi vos. Majorem hac dilectionem nemo habet, ut animam suam ponat qui pro amicis suis. [John 15:12-13]
And let us pray for the brave colonel and his young widow.
Requiem aeternam, dona ei, Domine, Requiescat in pace.
Catholic France is not quite dead yet so long as they can still produce a man like Colonel Beltrame.
In memory of the heroic colonel, I leave you with my favourite Vendean hymn which the soldiers of the Grand Royal and Catholic Army used to sing in the face of the revolutionary armies – the “Blues” – before flinging themselves fearlessly into battle.
The Chartres pilgrims devoutly sing this each year on the road from Paris to Chartres and around the camp fire at night, led by the fiercely hardy Catholic Boy Scouts. I well remember, on my second pilgrimage over 15 years ago, seeing a tall Gendarme officer striding up and down in his uniform and riding boots, singing this great hymn with gusto, alongside the Scouts. Could it have been the good colonel? One may devoutly imagine….and, if not, nevertheless that officer seemed to capture something of his noble soul and spirit….
Les Bleus sont là
Les bleus sont là, le canon gronde,
Dites les gars avez vous peur?
Nous n'avons qu'une peur au monde,
C'est d'offenser Notre Seigneur.
Vos corps seront jetés à l'onde,
Vos noms voués au déshonneur.
Nous n'avons qu'un honneur au monde,
C'est l'honneur de Notre Seigneur.
Les bleus chez vous dansant la ronde,
Boiront le sang de votre coeur.
Nous n'avons qu'un amour au monde,
C'est le Coeur de Notre Seigneur!
Allons debout, le canon gronde,
Partez les gars, soyez vainqueurs.
Nous n'avons qu'un espoir au monde,
C'est la victoire du Seigneur.
The Blues are there, the cannon roars,
Say you, boys, do you have fear?
We have only one fear in the world,
It is to offend our Lord.
Your bodies will be hurled into the river,
Your names will be doomed to dishonour;
But we have only one honour in the world,
It is the honour of our Lord.
The Blues, in your homes, dancing,
Will drink the blood of your heart;
But we have only one love in the world,
It is the Heart of our Lord!
Stand up, the cannon roars,
Forward, boys, and vanquish!
For we have only one hope in the world,
It is the victory of the Lord.
And my true favourite, the soldiers’ version: