On 7 April 2014, the Jesuit priest was abducted in Homs by armed men, beaten and executed. During his 50 years in Syria, he tried to keep together the local community, composed of Christians and Muslims. During the civil war, his home became a refuge for many people.
Damascus (AsiaNews) – Sunday, 7 April, will mark the fifth anniversary since the assassination of Jesuit priest Fr Frans Van der Lugt (pictured), who died at the age of 75, 50 of which spent in Syria.
To honour the memory of the priest killed in Homs, the Jesuit Fathers of the Netherlands and Flanders made an animated film about him available in nine languages: English, Arabic, French, German, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, Italian and Dutch.
Born on 10 April, 1938 in the Netherlands, Fr Van der Lugt joined the Society of Jesus on 7 September 1959 and was ordained on 29 May 1971. He was a member of the Jesuit Province of the Near East.
The clergyman arrived in Syria in 1966, after spending two years in Lebanon studying Arabic. During all his years in Syria, he tried to keep together the local community, composed of Christians and Muslims,.
With the outbreak of civil war in 2011, the Jesuit’s home in Homs become a refuge for many people who lost their own homes to violence, a place to share the little food and water left in the city.
In February 2014, AsiaNews carried his appeal on behalf of the people of Homs, whose situation was one of hunger, mental disorders due to bombing and insecurity, and lack of medicine.
In it, Fr. Van del Lugt said that out of Homs’s Christian community of about 60,000 people, only 66 had remained. He never wanted to leave them.
In an interview a few months before he died, he said: "The Syrian people gave me so much, so much kindness, inspiration and everything they have. If now the Syrian people suffers, I want to share with them the pain and difficulties."
The Dutch priest found martyrdom in the city in western Syria. On 7 April 2014 he was abducted by armed men who beat him and then shot him in the head twice.
In the film, Fr Van der Lugt is given a voice, making an urgent appeal to every human being, that hatred not be the last word. "To my last sigh I hoped that hatred, struggle and pain would stop."
The words retrace his sudden end. On the one hand there is hope; on the other, there is death. “As if everything has stopped. And yet it goes on. Yes, it goes on. [. . .] it is love that continues.”