As hundreds of people attended the funeral on Tuesday for Rev. Jacques Hamel, the French priest killed by Islamic State supporters, the archbishop of Rouen revealed Hamel's last words as he tried to push away his attackers: "Go away, Satan."
Archbishop Dominique Lebrun led the funeral mass at Rouen cathedral, The Associated Press reported, and reflected on Hamel's last moments, when the priest had his throat slit by two teenagers who pledged their allegiance to IS during morning Mass at his Rouen church.
"Evil is a mystery. It reaches heights of horror that take us out of the human," Lebrun said.
"Isn't that what you wanted to say, Jacques, with your last words, when you fell to the ground? After you were struck by the knife, you tried to push away your assailants with your feet and said, 'Go away, Satan.' You repeated it, 'Go away, Satan."'
The Archbishop continued: "You expressed ... your faith in the goodness of humans and that the devil put his claws in."
The slaying of the priest shook all of France, including many in the Muslim community, who attended Catholic mass on Sunday in solidarity with Christians over the murder.
Several French Muslim leaders have also refused to bury the two 19-year old attackers who murdered the priest, and were later killed by police.
"We won't participate in preparing the body for the burial," said Mohammed Karabila, imam and president of the local Muslim cultural association.
"What this young man did was sinful; he is no longer part of the community," added Khalid El Amrani, a 25-year-old local Muslim, referring to one of the IS attackers.
Lebrun thanked everyone who has supported the grieving community following Hamel's murder, and said that the Jewish and Muslim communities in particular have stood by Catholics to say "never again" to such an act of terror.
Reuters reported that the priest's sister, Roselyne Hamel, also spoke at the funeral, and described her brother as peace-loving, so much so that during his military service in Algeria as a young man he refused promotion to an officer's rank, so that he did not have to give an order to kill.
The priest had once also emerged the sole survivor in a desert shooting during his service in the army.
"He would often ask himself: 'Why me?' Today, Jacques, our brother, your brother, you have your answer: Our God of love and mercy chose you to be at the service of others," she said.
The cathedral service was followed by a private burial, according to reports.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls meanwhile said that in an effort to counter terrorism, foreign funding for mosques in France must be banned, and that all French imams should be trained in the country.
"We must guard against being paternalistic but we must have the lucidity to recognize that there is an urgency to helping 'Islam of France' get rid of those that undermine it from within," Valls told the weekly Journal du Dimanche.