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Papal audience for student beaten for defending gay couple

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by: Agence France-Presse

Pope Francis held a private audience Wednesday with a French student critically injured in 2016 defending a gay couple who were kissing in the street in the French city of Lyon.

“An incredible encounter with an exceptional man… I am thinking of you all on this special day for me. I leave full of strength, courage and hope,” the 20-year-old wrote on the Facebook page of the association “Je soutiens Marin” (I support Marin), created by his parents and followed by nearly 200,000 people.

On 11 November 2016, Marin, then a third-year university student studying law and political science, came to the defence of a gay couple who were being attacked by a gang of youths after kissing at a bus stop.

Marin’s alleged aggressor, a minor at the time of the incident, attacked him from behind, repeatedly clubbing him over the head with a crutch.

The young student spent weeks in a coma and had to undergo surgery to remove quarter of his skull to make room for the huge hematoma that had formed.

The attack left him with severe neurological damage and after several operations Marin now resides in a rehabilitation centre in Switzerland.

In the aftermath of the incident, messages and gestures of support flooded in for Marin with charity and sports events being organised in Lyon in his honour.

Over social media Marin documents his long rehabilitation process and his relatives have created an association, “Head Held High” to support victims of head trauma.