Pope Francis has comforted the sister of an elderly French priest who was slain by Islamic militants in a church in Normandy as the pontiff paid tribute to the courage of modern-day Christian martyrs.

Francis gripped the hands of Roselyne Hamel, whose brother, Rev. Jacques Hamel, 85, died when his throat was slit as he celebrated Mass on July 26, 2016.

Francis quietly spoke with Hamel during a service Saturday evening in St. Bartholomew Basilica on Tiber Island in Rome. He had just heard her tell fellow faithful in the church that her brother was killed by "two youths radicalized by a discourse of hate."

In his homily, Francis also hailed the suffering of refugees, lamenting that "international accords seem more important than human rights."