Priest chased, stabbed during televised Mass

A Montreal priest was chased and stabbed while celebrating mass last Friday.

The attack on Father Claude Grou at Saint Joseph’s Oratory was captured on a livestream and television broadcast of the mass.

Footage shows a man in jeans, a parka and a white baseball cap run up the sanctuary steps towards the priest.

Grou attempted to run away as the attacker knocked over a candle, but was quickly caught, pushed to the ground and stabbed.

The assailant slashed Grou in his stomach. The knife broke during the attack.

The 26-year old suspect – since identified by Montreal police as Vlad Christian Eremia – then dropped the knife and stood as members of the congregation ran towards him.

Three men restrained Eremia while other people went to help Grou.

When police arrived, Eremia was being detained by church security.

Grou, who was slightly injured on his upper body, was taken to hospital and released later that same day.

He thanked everyone who expressed concern for his health and said he plans to return to work after a short rest.

“There are so many people who helped me to pass through this moment and now my health is fine,” he said.

“My health is good and I’m recovering from my emotions.”

A member of the congregation who saw the attack said when Eremia started walking towards the sanctuary she thought he was going to kneel to say a prayer in front of a statue of Saint Joseph.

When she saw him going up the sanctuary steps and remove a knife from his clothing, the woman said she realised what his intentions were and ran out of the church screaming to alert the security.

Another witness said he saw police arrive and take the man away in handcuffs.

“I find this incident very unfortunate, in a place so peaceful that attracts millions of visitors,” he said.

“With what happened in Christchurch, it seems that all places of worship are being targeted,” he added.

Montreal Police say the attack was an isolated incident.

Eremia appeared briefly via video conference at the Montreal courthouse on Saturday afternoon.

He was expected back in court yesterday following a psycho-social evaluation.


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