Imagine the scene: the morning Catholic mass in the northern French town of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, an almost empty church, three parishioners, two nuns and a very old priest. Knife-wielding ISIS terrorists interrupt the service and slit the throat of Father Jacques Hamel. This heartbreaking scene illuminates the state of Christianity in Europe.
It happened before. In 1996 seven French monks were slaughtered in Algeria. In 2006, a priest was beheaded in Iraq. In 2016, this horrible Islamic ritual took place in the heart of European Christianity: the Normandy town where Father Hamel was murdered is the location of the trial of Joan of Arc, the heroine of French Christianity.