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Pope Francis to Meet With Families of Victims of Nice Basilica Attack

The three victims were honored in a national memorial.

Nadine Devillers, 60, had a magnificent smile, loved cheese, and had one dream: to meet Pope Francis. This is according to her husband of 26 years, Joffrey Devillers. Nadine was the first of three victims of a knife attack in the Nice basilica. She was found near the holy water font with a deep throat cut, nearly beheaded.

In a speech honoring the victims of the October 29 terrorist attack at the Basilica of Notre-Dame in Nice, France, Mayor Christian Estrosi said that he will help fulfill Nadine’s dream of meeting the Pope. (Read: Vatican Moves General Audience to Online Platforms Again)

“Dear Nadine … with your husband Joffrey… I will make your biggest dreams come true by going to Rome together with the other families to meet with Pope Francis,” the mayor said at the live-streamed outdoor memorial in Nice on November 7.

During the memorial, French Prime Minister Jean Castex placed the Medal of Recognition of Victims of Terrorism before a large portrait of Nadine in her wedding dress. He also honored the two other victims, Vincent Loques and Simone Barreto Silva.

Nadine Devillers is yet to be buried due to her autopsy for the ongoing investigation into the attack. (Photo taken from the livestream of the Nice attack victims’ memorial)

Faithful Catholics

The other two victims of the terrorist attack were 44-year-old Simone Barreto Silva and 54-year-old Vincent Loques. 

Simone, 44, was a mother of three children who went to pray at the basilica almost every morning. On the day of the attack, she took refuge in a nearby cafe but died of stab wounds shortly after. According to French media, a witness heard her say “Tell my children that I love them,” before she died.

Vincent Loques, on the other hand, was a father of two daughters who had been serving the Notre-Dame basilica as a sacristan for 10 years. He was killed the day before his 55th birthday. (Read: 4 Modern-Day Martyrs Whose Deaths Changed the World)

“He was outstanding when it came to preparing the Christmas nativity scene. I imagine what will be felt by all those who will try to replace him in that task,” Prime Minister Castex said at the memorial.

(Left) Simone Barreto Silva (Right) Vincent Loques (Photos from Simone Barreto Silva and Vincent Loques Facebook)

Private funeral Masses have been offered for Vincent Loques and Simone Barreto Silva in the Basilica of Notre-Dame. Nadine Devillers, meanwhile, is yet to be buried due to her autopsy for the ongoing investigation into the attack.

Nice Basilica Attacker

On the day of the attack, the French police shot and arrested 21-year-old Brahim Aouissaoui. Two more knives and the Quran was found in his possession. (Read: Pope Francis Condemns Sri Lanka Bombings)

Aouissaoui, a Tunisian who had arrived in Nice shortly before the day of the attack, tested positive for COVID-19 while hospitalized for his injuries. On November 6, he was transferred to Paris where he remains hospitalized and will be questioned by investigators. 

(Left) Nice terrorist Brahim Aouissaoui (Right) Security forces guard the area after a reported knife attack at Notre Dame church in Nice, France (Photos from Reuters / Daily Mirror and Reuters / Daily Mail)

As of writing, it is still unclear when the families of the Nice attack victims will travel to Rome to meet the Pope due to the current restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. France is currently under a second national lockdown after a rise in coronavirus cases this fall.

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