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Shrine to be erected in memory of 2000 cathedral attack


St Lucia will erect a shrine in memory of the deadly New Year’s Eve attack on worshippers in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Castries in 2000.

The initiative is part of the island’s venture into religious tourism reported a St Lucia Times article.

“In what one eyewitness described as ‘like a scene from hell’, machete-wielding men stormed the Roman Catholic Cathedral, hacking worshippers, dousing others with fuel, and setting them on fire,” the news source said. Fr Charles Gaillard and Sr Theresa Egan SJC perished as a result of the attack, and several other worshippers sustained injuries.

Two men, Kim John and Francis Phillip, who claimed to be prophets sent by God to fight “corruption” in the Catholic Church originally received the death sentence.

They won an appeal at the Privy Council and subsequently received life sentences.

Tourism Minister Dr Ernest Hilaire disclosed that the recent agreement St Lucia signed with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Development Fund provides for financing a project with the Catholic Church to introduce a visitor experience. In this regard, Hilaire disclosed plans for the shrine. “A shrine erected with a narrative, a story about what happened and the importance of it to the Catholic faith,” Hilaire stated.

“It will be an opportunity for persons to come and visit the church and in addition to what you would traditionally do in the church, to get an opportunity, for those of you who would have travelled to other parts of the world and seen some of those experiences, it is quite a rewarding experience from the perspective of spirituality,” the Minister said.