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France needs to return to God, Brisbane Frenchman says

Parisian prays: Prayers went out to victims of the Paris attacks on November 13.

Paris prays: A Parisian man prays for victims of the November 13 Paris attacks on Place de la Republique.

CHRISTIAN Pradayrol reached for his worn Rosary beads and a telephone the moment he learnt Paris was in desperate need of prayers. 

Mr Pradayrol, a Marseille-born Frenchman working for Brisbane-based Catholic charity Rosies, has spent part of each day for most of his life praying a decade of the Rosary for France to turn back to God.

On November 13, he called on God and Our Lady of Lourdes to protect his French people, and tried to contact friends he made from his time living in Paris as a university student, praying they weren’t in danger, or worse, dead.

“Thank God everyone is fine,” he said.

“It’s very tense, especially (since) that it is the second attack this year.”

Christian Pradayrol

Praying for France: Christian Pradayrol outside the Carmelite Monastery in Ormiston in 2014, has been praying the Rosary for his country France since he was a child.

Mr Pradayrol had returned from Mass with the enclosed Carmelite Sisters in Ormiston when he first saw the footage of the planned terrorist attacks in Paris bars, clubs, a concert hall and a football stadium leaving at least 132 dead and more than 350 wounded.

Extremist militant group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) claimed responsibility of the deadly assault days after the targeted attacks, confirmed by French president Francois Hollande, who ordered France’s borders be closed the night of the horror.

Witnesses reportedly heard the terrorists crying “Allahu Akbar”, an Arabic term for “God is great”.

“Obviously it gets personal when it’s at the heart of Paris,” Mr Pradayrol said.

“But when I heard they (the terrorists) were doing it in the name of God, I really took it to heart.”

Mr Pradayrol said his family, who have a tradition of praying a decade of the Rosary for France’s conversion, and many other Catholics had been expecting the attacks.

“There are a lot of social issues, and there have been a few signs in the last decade, a few incidents, where we knew (the attacks) would happen,” he said.

But the diligent Catholic said the shock and horror of the planned terrorist attacks could be a wake-up call for the country.

“I saw people on television praying in Paris, and I think through difficulty and tough times it can bring God back,” Mr Pradayrol said.

“I pray France turns back to God.”

Mr Pradayrol joined Francophiles in a minute of silence in King George Square in Brisbane on November 16, organised by the Union des Francais de l’Etranger (Union of French Abroad).

In Paris, thousands filled Notre Dame Cathedral inside and out on Sunday evening for a memorial Mass for victims of the massacre.

Cities worldwide shone red, blue and white lights on famous buildings and bridges, including Sydney’s Opera House and Harbour Bridge, signalling the tricolore, France’s official flag.

“All this support across the world is beautiful,” Mr Pradayrol said.

“To have the support means we are not alone.”

Paris archbishop Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, in a November 14 statement, prayed for grace to be “artisans of peace”.

“We ask for the grace to be artisans of peace. We need never despair of peace if we build on justice,” he said.

Holy See spokesman Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi released a statement hours after the attacks, which said the Holy See was “shocked by this new manifestation of maddening, terrorist violence and hatred” which Pope Francis condemned.

But while ISIS had claimed to be behind the attacks, Pope Francis said no religion or human could justify killing innocent people.

“This is not human,” the Holy Father said.

“I am close to the people of France, to the families of the victims, and I am praying for all of them.”

By Emilie Ng.

Catholic Church Insurance

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