Footage from the 8:30 a.m. mass on Friday, March 22, 2019 was broadcast on a Catholic television network, showing a man dressed in dark clothing walking toward the altar. The man rushed toward Father Claude Grou, striking him at least twice with an object in his right hand.
The suspect did not resist when he was subdued by security guards.
Police spokesperson Caroline Chèvrefils said the 26-year-old suspect is known to police.
Fr. Grou, age 77, was taken to hospital. Grou, who is a member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, has been at the Oratory since the early 2000s.
The Oratory in Montreal is visited by more than 2 million people every year.
The Oratory is the largest church dedicated to St. Joseph in the world and the largest church in Canada.
“We are all shocked by this act of violence that has taken place in our city, in a space dedicated to peace,” the archbishop’s message said.
“We know that places of worship of many religions are targets of acts of violence. We must continue to follow the path of peace and love, believing that good will overcome evil through prayer and good works. … I would especially like to recognize the first responders, especially those who courageously protected Father Grou. I thank the police force for their timely response, the ambulance technicians for their diligence and the support staff for their courage.”
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante reacted to the attack on Twitter, saying, “What a horrible and inexcusable gesture that has no place in Montreal. I am relieved to learn that Father Claude Grou … is out of danger and in stable condition. In the name of all Montrealers, I wish him a speedy recovery.”