Three statues have been totally or partially destroyed at the Saint-André church in the French commune of Niort after the church saw at least three attacks in the last several weeks.
Saint-André has been forced to close its doors until the end of August or possibly even longer due to the vandalism attacks. Over the weekend several statues were attacked, including a statue of Jesus as a baby being carried by St Anthony, which was shattered into a thousand pieces.
According to a report from La Nouvelle Republique, some of the pieces of the statue had been placed in a nearby garbage can and the parish has filed a complaint with the local police over the attacks.
Built in the 11th century, the church was expanded before being destroyed by local protestants in 1588. It was later rebuilt by King Louis XIV. It fell into disrepair following the French revolution and was restored during the second French empire led by Napoleon III.
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The attacks on the church are just the latest in a wave of anti-Christian attacks across France in recent years, which most recently saw Nantes Cathedral set on fire by a migrant from Rwanda.
The 39-year-old Rwandan had volunteered at the cathedral for several years prior to the fire and was one of the few volunteers trusted with a full set of keys to the building.
Last year, a report suggested that between 2016 and 2018 there had been thousands of cases of attacks on French churches, with the country seeing an average of three anti-Christian attacks per day.
Ellen Fantini, director of the Vienna-based Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe (OIDACE), said last month that between 2008 and 2019 France had seen a 285 per cent rise in anti-Christian incidents.
An OIDACE report in 2019 stated there has been “a rise in the number of churches, Christian symbols, and cemeteries across Europe being vandalised, desecrated, and burned, compared to previous years.”
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