France: Vandalism and Violence Against Nativity Scenes

February 07, 2020

A nativity scene installed in front of the church of Notre-Dame de Dijon has been vandalized three times. First on the night of December 18-19, then on the night of December 19-20, and finally on Christmas eve night, December 24-25.

The Nativity scene had been created by two refugees from Kosovo, a Muslim and a Christian. The Dijon church had already been the target of malicious acts, including a desecration in February 2019. Consecrated hosts had been scattered on the ground. Additional damages and thefts have been recorded since.

Other nativity scenes in France have also been attacked in recent weeks. In Saint-Eloy-les-Mines, in the Puy-de-Dôme department, a representation of the Nativity was vandalized between December 16 and 18, 2019, reports the newspaper La Croix. In total, four nativity figures—the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, and two Magi—had been decapitated and their arms torn off. Garlands were also stolen. A complaint was filed, and the gendarmerie launched an investigation. Marie-Thérèse Sikora, mayor of Saint-Eloy-les-Mines, favors an act of protest. “I know that nativity scenes are now widely criticized, but we have been setting ours up every year for 25 years because we are in a Judeo-Christian country,” she told reporters.

On December 14, 2019, a living nativity scene in Toulouse was targeted. The performance was canceled after disturbances by demonstrators defining themselves as “anti-capitalists.” Archbishop Robert Le Gall, of Toulouse, deplored that “the simple reminder of the birth of Jesus and the values ​​it conveys is no longer respected in our country.”