Melbourne backpacker tells of Brother Roger horror moment

CLICK HEREAs memorial services take place in Australian cities this week, a Melbourne backpacker has given a moving, if horrific, eyewitness account of the last moments of the life of the Taizé founder who was slain last week.

ABC Radio National's Religion Report interviewed Nico Lynch, a 26 year old backpacker who was in the congregation that witnessed the tragic death of Brother Roger.

"It was shocking," he told interviewer Noel Debien. "That's one word to express how it affected me."

"We were called to prayer at Taizé, which means the bells tolled at around quarter past eight in the evening. By 8.30 the prayer had begun, and at around 9 o'clock, within the church, a woman stood up from amongst the crowd and made her way towards the area where Frčre Roger was sitting. He always sits on a particular stool, and she mounted a little hedge to get to him, then attacked him. I was really less than five metres away.

"I saw the woman just stand up and walk towards him. At that point I wasn't aware of what was happening. The main reason being that a lot of children sit behind Frere Roger and they were all there, and one assumed that it was just the mother of one of the children, sort of making sure that he or she was OK. It was only at the time of the scream - which was just one of sheer terror - that you realised that something terrible was happening, and then there was shock. I mean everybody looked around and started talking, broke the silence so to speak, and the brother sitting closest to Frčre Roger pulled her off him. She fell back, literally onto her back, then the ushers restrained her, and she was carried out a bit, and then sort of dragged or walked out of the church.

Mr Lynch said that Taizé changed overnight, with the presence of media and police investigators. The brothers offered counselling and debriefing, and friendships we strengthened.

"We shared our experiences - that was really great, actually, to do that; it helped with coming to terms with what had happened. The days following the murder were a bit unbelievable... One doesn't expect something like that to happen in such a holy place."

The audio and transcript of the interview are on the program's website (see link below).

Meanwhile the NSW Ecumenical Council organised a memorial service at St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, which was held last night. This evening at 7:30 pm, there will be a service in Canberra, in the Chapel of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture. In Melbourne, the Memorial Service will be held at St Paul's Cathedral tomorrow evening (Friday) at 8:00 pm.

The death of Brother Roger of Taizé (ABC The Religion Report 24/8/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Taizé | Latest Updates
KTO Television Catholique - video of funeral

Brother Roger laid to rest in Taizé (CathNews 24/8/05)
Catholic funeral for Taizé's Brother Roger (CathNews 23/8/05)
Pope shocked at slaying of Taizé's Brother Roger (CathNews 18/8/05)

Message of Condolences for the death of Brother Roger (Caritas Internationalis 18/8/05)
Some 10,000 Christians gather in Taize for funeral of Brother Roger (Catholic News Service 23/8/05)
Brother Roger's Funeral Highlights "Ecumenism of Holiness" (Zenit 23/8/05)
Messages Sent Following Brother Roger's Death (Zenit 23/8/05)

25 Aug 2005