SAINT-ETIENNE-DU-ROUVRAY, France — A Normandy church where Islamic extremists killed a priest and used nuns as human shields reopened Sunday for the first time since the attack, with a special cleansing ritual and call for tolerance across religions.
The archbishop of Rouen led a procession through the nearby town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray to the Catholic church where two 19-year-old radicals killed 85-year-old priest Jacques Hamel on July 26 as he celebrated Mass on a quiet summer weekday.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, in which two nuns and an elderly couple were held hostage before the assailants slashed the priest’s throat and seriously wounded the other man.
Another nun slipped away and raised the alarm, and police fatally shot both attackers as they left the church.
‘‘We bear the tragedy of this July 26th, 2016, as an indelible scar on our common history, our national history,’’ Mayor Hubert Wulfrance said to a crowd that included local Muslims invited to take part in the community event.