Pope greets assassin's sister


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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 2, 2009 ( Benedict XVI today greeted the sister of a man who was condemned to death and executed for killing a policeman. After his jailhouse conversion, however, the man is now in the process of beatification.

The Pope greeted Monique Fesch today at the end of the general audience. Monique's brother Jacques was executed in Paris on Oct. 1, 1957. He had killed a policeman when the robbery he was committing went bad.

Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica, accompanied Fesch in meeting the Holy Father today. The cardinal learned of Jacques during his years as chaplain at the Regina Coeli prison, he told L'Osservatore Romano.

"His is a unique testimony," he said, explaining how Jacques was a youth from a rich family who became an assassin and was condemned to death. "He was 27. In prison he had a radical, vivid conversion, reaching great heights of spirituality."

For her part, Monique recounted her close relationship with her brother. "I was eight years older than him and his godmother. Visiting him in the prison, I followed closely his extraordinary conversion."

Monique and biographer Ruggiero Francavilla showed Benedict XVI the letters that Jacques wrote from prison.

Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, then archbishop of Paris, opened his cause for canonization in 1993.