Catholic priest murdered in France by ‘Rwandan refugee’ he was giving shelter

A Catholic priest was murdered on Monday August 9th in the French western region of Vendée, by a Rwandan refugee whom he was giving shelter, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said on Twitter.

A suspect handed himself over to police and said he had killed the priest, a source close to the case told AFP news agency.

The suspect, Emmanuel Abayisenga, 40, was on bail and awaiting trial for setting fire to Nantes Cathedral last year but confessed to the killing of 60-year-old Father Olivier Maire in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre earlier this morning. 

In an act of compassion, Olivier had welcomed Abayisenga, a devout Catholic, into his community of missionaries in May when he was released from prison on bail.

‘He was recently placed under judicial control, and went to live in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre,’ said an investigating source. ‘He is said to have carried out the killing on Monday morning, before handing himself into police.

‘Early evidence suggests he beat his victim to death,’ the source added.

Abayisenga was living with the Montfortian community, which is made up of missionaries devoted to Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort.

Local prosecutors are leading the investigation, indicating the killing is not being treated as an act of terrorism. BFM TV reported the Rwandan had received treatment in a psychiatric hospital in July. 

Following today’s attack, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin tweeted: ‘All my support for the Catholics of our country after the dramatic murder of a priest in the Vendée region.’