rance has seen a spate of attacks against Catholic churches since the start of the year, vandalism that has included arson and desecration.
Vandals have smashed statues, knocked down tabernacles, scattered or destroyed the Eucharist and torn down crosses, sparking fears of a rise in anti-Catholic sentiment in the country.
Last Sunday, the historic Church of St. Sulpice in Paris was set on fire just after midday mass on Sunday, Le Parisien reported, although no one was injured. Police are still investigating the attack, which firefighters have confidently attributed to arson.
Built in the 17th century, St. Sulpice houses three works by the Romantic painter Eugene de la Croix, and was used in the movie adaptation of The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown.
Last month, at the St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Houilles, in north-central France, a statue of the Virgin Mary was found smashed, and the altar cross had been thrown on the ground, according to La Croix International, a Catholic publication.
Also in February, at Saint-Alain Cathedral in Lavaur, in south-central France, an altar cloth was burned and crosses and statues of saints were smashed. The attack prompted Lavaur Mayor Bernard Canyon to say in a statement: “God will forgive. Not me.”
And in the southern city of Nimes, near the Spanish border, vandals looted the altar of the church of Notre-Dame des Enfants (Our Lady of the Children) and smeared a cross with human excrement.