The priest, named as Father Christophe, was stabbed 20 times, according to reports. An elderly nun is also understood to have been stabbed in the hand while trying to defend the priest at the Saint-Pierre-d’Arène church in Nice.

The attacker has been described as “mentally unstable”.

He is reported to be a 31-year-old male, born in Fréjus.

The attack took place at 10am this morning, on April 24 (9am BST).

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the priest’s life was not in danger, despite reports he is in a critical condition.

He added the attacker has been arrested.

Mr Darmanin wrote in a post on Twitter: “Solidarity with the parishioners and thanks to the police who quickly arrested the author.”

The nun, named as Sister Marie-Claude, is understood to have procured the knife from the violent attacker, receiving heavy injury while doing so.

Lawmaker Eric Ciotti commended her “extraordinary courage”.

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Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi revealed the attacker has been subject to psychiatric monitoring.

He has stayed on several occasions at the Sainte-Anne hospital for patients with mental illnesses.

This comes on the day French voters will take to the polls to decide their next president for the next five years.

Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen had appeared to be neck-on-neck in polling up until this week.

This changed, however, after the two faced each other in a televised debate on Wednesday, April 21.

Ms Le Pen is widely reported to have performed better than in 2017, though still allowed Mr Macron to get the better of her, in a debate that was greatly significant given the French voting system which does not allow for postal votes and comes down to the election day itself, less than a week after the televised discussion.

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