(JNS.org) Father Frans Van Der Lugt, a Dutch Jesuit priest, died after being shot twice in the head on Monday by an unknown assailant in the rebel-held Syrian city of Homs.
“A man came into his house, took him outside and shot him twice in the head. In the street in front of his house,” Jan Stuyt, secretary of the Dutch Jesuit Order, told AFP.
Van Der Lugt first arrived in Syria in 1966 after spending two years studying Arabic in Lebanon. He lived in a local Jesuit monastery where he ministered to local Christians and helped the poor.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Van Der Lugt refused to leave the besieged city as long as Christians remained there.
“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,” Van Der Lugt told AFP in February.
In a statement, the Vatican praised Van Der Lugt as a “man of peace.”
“This is the death of a man of peace, who showed great courage in remaining loyal to the Syrian people despite an extremely risky and difficult situation,” Vatican Press Secretary Father Federico Lombardi stated.