France: Patrimony Days and religious amnesia

Source: FSSPX News


The Patrimony Days, dedicated this year to the patrimony of places of worship, brought more than 11 million visitors on September 21 and 22. On this occasion, statements could be read in the newspapers, by those responsible for historical Monuments, which expressed, over and above the dilapidation of the churches, an immense spiritual void.

This is how François Goven, deputy director of historical Monuments described the situation in La Croix of September 20: “more and more churches are closed through lack of priests, or they are systematically looted, because they are not under surveillance”, and the churches are not only empty, but they themselves are becoming empty shells, devoid of meaning, because religious memory is disappearing. The writer Jean-Paul Kaufmann deplores this in his book, “Lutte avec l’ange”: “The long procession of prophets, piétas, of Christs in majesty still throbs with a life which is dwindling. The defense of our patrimony grants it a reprieve, but the spirit is broken. The effective impetus which gave a soul to this imagery is dead. It is no longer stirred by faith, or by the adored look of the faithful”.

Madeleine Blondel, curator of the patrimony of Dijon, asks the question: “Can a ciborium, a chalice or a chasuble be admired without talking of their religious usage?” She is responding to this in the museum of sacred art, where she has devised a presentation, adapted to the vast collections given by townships and parish priests: “We have more than 3000 chasubles!” These objects, displayed in a former church, are presented “in a skillfully arranged scenography, which evokes the setting of Christian worship in the XVII century”. For certain celebrations, other objects are taken out of store, “in such a way as to give the visitors a way of understanding a religious celebration”. For Madeleine Blondel, “the 21st century visitor who comes to our museum, having just left a fast food restaurant with his bag of French fries, needs to be put into the appropriate context”.

Without a healthy boost, the present dechristianization will soon prove Jean-Pascal Foucher right. He is from the museum of sacred art at Orne, and he has this to say: “In actual fact, we have to do what we have been doing for a long time for other civilizations: explain a saint as if he were an Asiatic divinity! And then replace him in his ethnographic context.”