France: Rouen Sacré-Cœur Basilica Vandalized

Source: FSSPX News

Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Rouen

On the night of November 14 to 15, 2023, the Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Rouen was the subject of a burglary and acts of vandalism, causing very significant damage, the cost of which is estimated at tens of thousands of euros.

The Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur in Rouen

This minor basilica was built to the west of the city of Rouen, from 1890 to 1912, at the time when the Sacré-Cœur basilica in Montmartre was erected. Initially, the church was intended to help serve the territory of the St. Madeleine and St. Gervais churches. Fr. Daubeuf, parish priest of the Madeleine and initiator of the project, was supported by Archbishop Léon Thomas, future cardinal.

The church has a particular architecture, due to its location sandwiched between two converging traffic lanes: it has a very narrow facade and the nave gradually widens towards the choir. In addition, the sloping ground made it necessary to raise the sanctuary in relation to the nave. The building is constructed in the Romanesque style.

The church was designated as a minor basilica on March 23, 1918 and consecrated on May 31 of the same year. At the entrance to the nave, on the gospel side, is a monumental tomb in the medieval style, the work of Auguste Coutin.

Sacrilegious Theft and Vandalism

The parish priest, Fr. Geoffroy de la Tousche, noted: “its state (of the church) is absolutely terrible.” He adds: “a statue was broken, sacred vases stolen, the altar and the choir are in a terrible state, broken,” he enumerates. “By luck, grace or providence, the Blessed Sacrament was not stolen, but all of this is dramatic,” he lamented again.

Questioned by the local newspaper, Paris-Normandie, the priest declared that the damage would amount to tens of thousands of euros. He also explains that the tabernacle embedded above the altar was torn off, and its fall damaged the altar and its steps. All the boxes, all the containers, were broken open, and the chalices taken away.

The Diocese of Rouen filed a complaint. The judicial police have been informed of the case. For the moment it has ruled out an act of Christianophobia, due to the absence of inverted crosses or anti-Catholic inscriptions. The diocese and the priest accepted this observation.

Whatever the police or ecclesiastics think, this theft is objectively sacrilegious. And it is more than surprising that the wanton vandalism of statues – in the absence of a direct search for elements of value – is not considered as a desire for destruction directed against a Catholic symbol.

The diocese had a Mass of reparation celebrated on Thursday, November 16, because of the desecration, which is an indirect admission by the archdiocese of the anti-Catholic act.

The financial loss is not small for the parish, which owns the church. In addition, explains the priest, “We had spent a lot of money restoring the facade, in preparation for the Armada” – a festive event which brings together large sailing ships in the port of Rouen every three years. “Today,” laments the priest, “the facade is white, but its heart is sullied.”

Entombment by Auguste Coutin, in the Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur