French Police Suspect Criminal Motive In Nantes Cathedral Fire
Police are investigating a fire at the 15th century Nantes Cathedral in France, suspecting that the incident was caused by criminal motive.
Roughly 100 firefighters combated the blaze at St. Peter and St. Paul Cathedral in northwestern France Saturday morning. The fire was discovered to have three starting points, leading authorities to believe that it may be arson, the Washington Post reported.
????VIDEO | Tragedy in France as 100 firefighters contained a fire at the historic Cathedral of Nantes this morning, being investigated as arson. The Gothic cathedral was damaged by Allied bombing in 1944… Prayers for #NantesCathedral pic.twitter.com/bHaOESslOF
— National Catholic Register (@NCRegister) July 18, 2020
“It’s not a coincidence. It’s even a signature,” Pierre Sennes, a Nantes public prosecutor, told France’s Ouest France newspaper, according to the Post.
There was no evidence of a break-in at any of the cathedral’s six doors. Most of the cathedral was saved, although an organ and a painting by 19th century painter Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin, were destroyed, according to the Guardian.
A 39-year-old Rwandan refugee who was housed by the diocese and was responsible for locking up the building the day before the fire was detained but freed Sunday evening. Sennes said that he was brought in for questioning as part of “normal procedure.”
“After Notre Dame, Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral, in the heart of Nantes, is in flames,” President Emmanuel Macron tweeted on Saturday. “Support for our firefighters taking all the risks to save this Gothic jewel of the city of the Dukes.”
Après Notre-Dame, la cathédrale Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul, au cœur de Nantes, est en flammes. Soutien à nos sapeurs-pompiers qui prennent tous les risques pour sauver ce joyau gothique de la cité des Ducs.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) July 18, 2020
In 2018, French police reported 129 thefts and 877 acts of vandalism in Catholic spaces, and some advocates have said the French government has downplayed the official figures related to anti-Catholic incidents. The French Ministry of the Interior said attacks on Christian sites quadrupled between 2008 and 2019, according to RealClear. (RELATED: French Police Reported Nearly 900 Acts Of Anti-Catholic Vandalism In 2018. What Is Going On?)