A 75-year-old priest was murdered in Syria Monday. According to World Magazine masked assassins shot Dutch Jesuit Father Frans van der Lugt in the head as he entered his garden in Homs.
Known as Father Frans, despite the dangers, he preferred to remain in the city of Homs in solidarity with the people who could not leave the city, serving the poor and homeless.
World Watch Monitor reports that an estimated 60,000 Christians used to live in the region, but now fewer than 30 remain in the Old City sector of Homs, an ancient town that was a rebel stronghold in the early days of the three-year-old Syrian uprising.
Van der Lugt explained during an interview on Dutch radio in February his reasons for staying in the beleaguered Old City sector.
“When I leave, nothing will be left of this building,” he said. “And I don’t want to leave alone the 28 Christians that have remained.”
In a video posted on YouTube in early 2014, van der Lugt described the despairing conditions for those living in Homs. “One of our biggest problems is hunger,” he said. “There is nothing to eat.”
Fr. Frans was born in the Netherlands in 1938, entered the Society of Jesus in 1958 and was ordained a priest in 1971. He worked in Syria since 1960.
Publication date: April 15, 2014