A Church Volunteer serving as a warden at France's 15th-century Nantes Gothic Cathedral of Saint Peter and Saint Paul has confessed to setting the blaze that gutted its interior and caused severe damage, his lawyer said on Sunday (Jul 26).
The name of suspect, a 39-year-old, an asylum seeker from Rwanda living in France for several years now, has been withheld by investigators. He was taken into custody on Saturday (Jul 25) following his confession.
Fire broke out in three different places inside the Nantes cathedral in the early morning hours on Jul 18. The blaze engulfed the inside of the Gothic structure of the Cathedral destroying its grand organ, stained-glass windows and a painting.
While firefighters were able to extinguish the Nantes fire after just two hours and save its main structure, the organ (that had survived the French revolution and second world war) was destroyed.
The motive of the Church volunteer for attempting to burn down the Cathedral are yet to be ascertained.
In Feb and March 2019, at least 10 incidents of vandalism and desecration of Catholic churches were reported across France. Catholic churche were targeted with arson attacks, vandalism, desecration of holy statues, and the destruction of the Eucharist. In one particular case, miscreants used human excrement to draw a cross on the wall in February.
The Church of St. Sulpice in Paris, where the Da Vinci Code movie was filmed, was set ablaze after midday mass on 17 Mar 2019. Firefighters and police later confirmed the incident as an arson attack.
On 4 Feb 2019, a 19th century statue statue of the Virgin Mary was found smashed on the ground at St Nicholas Catholic Church in Houilles, Yvelines. The church had reported three incidents within 10 days. In another incident, a cross was also found thrown on the floor by vandals.
At Saint-Alain Cathedral in Lavaur in south-central France. , statues and crosses were smashed and an altar cloth was burned earlier this month. 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.
On 6 Feb 2019, miscreants at Notre-Dame des Enfants (Our Lady of the Children) church in Nimes, vandals broke into the tabernacle and scattered altar hosts on the ground. During the attack, 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.
On 26 July 2016, two Islamic terrorists, Adel Kermiche and Abdel-Malik Petitjean, owing allegiance to the Islamic State, attacked a mass at a Catholic church in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy, northern France. Wielding knives and wearing fake explosive belts, the men took six people captive and later killed one of them, 85-year-old priest Jacques Hamel, by slitting his throat, and also critically wounded an 86-year-old man. The terrorists were eliminated by the French police when they attempted to leave the church.
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