Catholic churches in France are being targeted with arson attacks, vandalism, desecration of holy statues, and the destruction of the Eucharist. The attacks have been happening since the start of the year.
The Church of St. Sulpice in Paris, where the Da Vinci Code movie was filmed, was set on fire just after midday mass on Sunday, Le Parisien reports. Firefighters and police said the blaze was an arson attack.
In February, a 19th century statue of the Virgin Mary was smashed at the St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Houilles. The statue was “completely pulverized,” Father Francois-Laurent Heart said. “It is irreparable.” The church reported three incidents in 10 days, with a cross also thrown on the floor by vandals.
At Saint-Alain Cathedral in Lavaur, statues and crosses were smashed and an altar cloth was burned in February. A statue of Christ on a cross was also interfered with, as vandals twisted one of the arms to make it appear that Jesus was dabbing, La Depeche reports. Two teenagers were later arrested over the damage.
Meanwhile, the Notre-Dame des Enfants church in Nimes was looted and vandals used human excrement to draw a cross on the wall in February. Consecrated hosts of unleavened bread, which Catholics believe is the body of Jesus Christ, were found scattered outside with rubbish.
Also in February, eucharistic hosts were stolen and scattered around Notre-Dame church in Dijon, with Father Emmanuel Pic denouncing the attack as on the “heart of the Catholic faith.”
“Nothing of value has been broken, but it’s the intent that’s very shocking,” he told Bien Public.
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