Thousands mourn monk murdered in church

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The Independent Online

An estimated 10,000 mourners flocked from all over the world to the funeral of Brother Roger, the apostle of Christian unity murdered in his church in Burgundy last week.

Brother Alois, the German Catholic who succeeded Brother Roger as head of the Taizé community, asked the crowd to pray for the 36-year-old Romanian woman accused of stabbing the 90-year-old prior during a church service. "God of goodness, we ask you to forgive Luminita Solcan, who, in an act of wickedness, ended the life of our Brother Roger," he said yesterday. "Like Christ on the cross, we say to you, 'Forgive her, for she knew not what she did.' "

The German President, Horst Köhler, and the French Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, were among the mourners, many of whom watched the service on a large screen outside the church.

Brother Roger founded his community, dedicated to peace and the reunification of the Christian church, in 1940. In recent years, Taizé has attracted pilgrims from all over the world, and its music has become internationally celebrated.

During a service attended by 2,500 pilgrims last Tuesday evening, Ms Solcan allegedly stabbed Brother Roger in the back and throat. Romanian officials say that she has been suffering from psychiatric problems since her father died seven years ago.