The blood of the martyrs still flows. Father Frans van der Lugt refused to leave the Christians of Homs, Syria and now he has been shot in cold blood.
One may recall Homs became an opposition stronghold and the Syrian government launched a military assault against the city in May 2011. By 14 January, the government was in control of Homs except for the Old City, which remains in rebel hands and is under government siege. Fighting has left large parts of the city destroyed.
Aljazeera reported the murder of this Dutch Priest:
“I can confirm that he’s been killed,” Jan Stuyt, secretary of the Dutch Jesuit Order, told the AFP news agency by phone.
“A man came into his house, took him outside and shot him twice in the head. In the street in front of his house.”
Stuyt said he was not aware of particular threats to van der Lugt, adding that the priest would be buried in Syria “according to his wishes”.
Van der Lugt spent nearly five decades in Syria, and said in February that he considered the country to be his home…”
The following was written in the Daily Sun in February news concerning Father Frans and why he did not leave :
BEIRUT (Feb 5, 2014): There is little food or hope left in Syria’s besieged Old City of Homs. But an elderly Dutch priest has remained there in solidarity with the Syrians he considers countrymen.
Father Frans van der Lugt has spent nearly five decades in Syria, a country he loves so dearly that he considers it his own, although he was born in The Netherlands.
Despite crushing hardship in Homs, where residents face a daily struggle to find food and the Christian population has dwindled to a few dozen, the thought of leaving could not be further from his mind.
“I’m the head of the monastery, how could I leave it? How could I leave the Christians behind? It would be impossible,” he told AFP in an interview over Skype.
“The Syrian people have given me so much, so much kindness, inspiration and everything they have. If the Syrian people are suffering now, I want to share their pain and their difficulties.”
Father Frans, a Jesuit, arrived in Syria in 1966 after spending two years in Lebanon studying Arabic.
At 75, his eyes still sparkle behind his glasses as he talks, and he smiles as he describes his relationship with his adopted home.
But he describes soberly the suffering of the estimated 3,000 people left in Homs’s Old City, under a suffocating army siege and daily regime bombardment.
Father Frans was Dutch, but U-Tube showed a mob gathered to behead a Syrian Catholic priest in Gassanieh, Syria. It showed people standing around with their cameras and phones getting pictures of what was about to happen. As the Syrian Priest, whose name I do not know, was actually beheaded, the video was censored. It is hard to believe that people can do this in the name of religion, but Father Frans knew the dangers he faced. Yet, he stayed in the name of Christ and the love of God.
There have been many martyrs for their faith in Christ starting with the disciples who knew Him personally. Fox’s Book of Martyrs tell of those who were persecuted; refusing to denounce their Lord; and paid the ultimate price. In the Holy Scriptures, Book of Revelation 20:4 we are told:
“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years…”
Father Frans will be with those who were faithful to the end.