France: Churches Vandalized Around Christmas

December 28, 2022
Church of St. Maclou, Rouen

The month of December saw a number of acts of vandalism, large and small, and more or less shocking, of churches in France. The fact remains that the will to attack the Catholic religion is evident in most of these attacks, even when it is not claimed. It is as if the mystery of Christmas and its message of peace has excited the hatred of some.

The most serious of these violations occurred at St. Joseph Church in Cannes, diocese of Nice. On the night of November 21 to 22, individuals broke into the church and broke into the tabernacle before desecrating the hosts. This desecration, which was the very purpose of the intruders, is, at least in a broad sense, “satanic.” The bishop of the diocese celebrated a Mass of reparation.

Another attack occurred at the St. Jean-Baptiste church in Ambert, diocese of Clermont-Ferrand. Attempts to set fires were discovered in the church twice: once during the All Saints holidays, then on December 5. The damage was only minor, but the municipality decided to close the building outside of religious services until further notice. It is a prudent precaution, but which deprives the parishioners of the use of their church outside of Mass times.

In Bordeaux, on Tuesday, December 20, laborers working in the church of the Trinity discovered a series of 17 impacts on the glass windows, impacts that failed to destroy the glazing. The discovery of six steel balls inside the church reveals that the vandals committed their mischief from the inside. No one heard anything.

In Rouen, on the night of December 17 to 18, two barely adult students climbed on the roof of the St. Maclou church and destroyed one of the pinnacles by throwing it to the ground. The pinnacle is an ornate crown, in the shape of a cone or a pyramid, decorating the top of roofs, buttresses, and gables. Others may have been damaged.

The St. Maclou church, built between the 15th and 16th centuries, is a jewel of flamboyant Gothic art. It has a famous portal with five porches adorned with magnificent carved wooden doors dating from the Renaissance. The church was seriously damaged during World War II. It took nearly 60 years to complete the restoration work.

The two young men were arrested. “It's a bit tiring: whatever we think, it's our national heritage and that of the Rouennais,” Elizabeth Labaye, the municipal councilor responsible for heritage, stated in reaction. The city council filed a complaint.

In Paris, the facade of the St. Roch church, located in the 1st arrondissement, was decked out with a series of grotesque and abstruse tags, some of which were quite explicitly anti-Catholic, on the evening of December 19. The civil council services quickly cleaned up these insanities.

The last degradation to report was particularly violent. In the St. Anne d'Arvor church, in Lorient, three large plaster statues – Our Lady, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, and St. Joan of Arc, the principal patroness and the two secondary patronesses of France – were smashed to the ground. In addition, the Nativity scene was destroyed. It happened on December 22, three days before Christmas.