Saint-Pierre d’Arene church in Nice, southeastern France. | Jesmar via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).
A 72-year-old religious sister has been praised for her “extraordinary courage” after she sought to disarm a man stabbing a priest at a Catholic church in Nice, southeastern France.
Sister Marie-Claude reportedly intervened after a 31-year-old man entered the Saint-Pierre d’Arene church before Sunday Mass on April 24 and repeatedly stabbed Father Krzysztof Rudziński.
She received a wound to the forearm and was taken to a hospital along with the 57-year-old priest.
The Diocese of Nice said in an April 24 statement that neither the sister nor the priest suffered life-threatening injuries in the incident, which police said was not related to terrorism.
Local politician Éric Ciotti commended the sister in a post on his Twitter account.
“Extraordinary courage of Sister Marie-Claude who intervened while the attacker continued to stab Father Christophe,” he wrote.
“She snatched the knife from him while being injured on the forearm.”
Father Rudziński, originally from Suchowola, northeastern Poland, is believed to have been stabbed up to 20 times, mainly in the chest.
Bishop Piotr Turzyński, the Polish bishops’ delegate for the pastoral care of Polish immigrants, appealed for prayers for the priest and sister.
“In a spirit of solidarity, I commend the health of the wounded to God’s mercy,” he said, according to the Polish Catholic news agency KAI.
The Nice diocese described the attacker, who was arrested at the scene, as “apparently mentally unstable.”
According to French media reports, the man told police that he had wanted to kill Emmanuel Macron, who was re-elected as president of France on Sunday.
The French Catholic magazine Famille chrétienne said that the assailant, a French citizen who identified himself as Jewish, had previously undergone psychiatric treatment.
Catholics in Nice were targeted in an Islamist attack in October 2020. An attacker stabbed three people to death at the Basilica of Notre Dame de Nice.
“Once again, a tragedy has struck the Catholic community of the Alpes-Maritimes. And once again, in the heart of the city of Nice,” the Diocese of Nice said on Sunday.