Another Church Set Ablaze in France on Easter Sunday, Arson Likely
The inferno is the latest in a slew of desecrations of Christian churches in France
A fire at the French church of Notre-Dame de Grâce on Easter Sunday is likely to be a result of arson, according to police.
The inferno is the latest in a slew of desecrations of Christian churches in France following the fire at the famous Notre Dame cathedral in Paris this last week.
The fire consumed a dais in the presbytery of the eighteenth-century church located in the southern French town of Eyguières and was believed to have started around 4:30 pm.
“Flames several meters high were coming out of the church,” said the mayor of Eyguières, Henri Pons.
Twenty square meters of the church was destroyed, but witnesses noted that it could have been worse if it had not been for the intervention of a local inhabitant.
The resident who lives opposite the church saw flames inside the stained-glass windows, according to the Mayor.
He “used fire extinguishers from the village movie theater and courageously entered the church while waiting for firefighters to arrive.”
“If this brave citizen, a former top sportsman, had not intervened, the church would probably have burned to the ground,” the mayor added.
“It was Easter Sunday and there was almost nobody in the village.”
The man now dubbed a local hero by the name of Joel Jouve said following the events that the air in the church was “unbreathable” and there was very little light when he entered.
He finally found two holy water fonts, which he used to extinguish the fire.
“I shouted for someone to find me fire extinguishers, and I used them on the fire,” he said, adding he was just happy to have “saved something.”
The Catholic community is still reeling in shock, according to a local parish priest
“After Notre-Dame in Paris and especially the attacks in Sri Lanka, this fire moved the faithful who were preparing to celebrate the joy of Easter,” said Father Christophe Nowak.
“They are in shock and messages of support have been arriving.”
“It is an ordeal, but life must go on,” the priest said.
An investigation has now been launched to find the cause of the fire,
A dozen Catholic churches were desecrated across France over just one week this past March, and the recent spate of church profanations has puzzled both police and ecclesiastical leaders.
French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault has pledged 100 million euros ($131m) to repair the damage caused to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday, when a fire engulfed the 12th-century building, destroying the roof and spire.