Man Commits Suicide Inside Notre Dame

Some 1,500 visitors were cleared out of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris after a man put a letter on the altar of the 850-year-old monument Tuesday, pulled out a gun and shot himself in the head.

It’s the first suicide in decades at the landmark site, Monsignor Patrick Jacquin, the cathedral’s rector, told The Associated Press.

“It’s unfortunate, it’s dramatic, it’s shocking,” Jacquin said.  The motives for the suicide, and the contents of the man’s letter, were unclear.

The Paris prosecutor’s office identified the man as 78-year-old Dominique Venner.

Venner’s blog describes him as a historian and essayist, and includes description of his involvement in the campaign against France’s new law authorizing gay marriage. In some posts he criticizes “massive immigration” and what he describes as encroaching Islam; others include historical analysis of revolution or American-European relations.

It says he fought with French forces against Algerian independence fighters a half-century ago in a war that ended with France losing its most prized colony.

Police ushered people out of the cathedral after the shooting, Interior Minister Manuel Valls told reporters from the grand stone plaza in front of Notre Dame. “We call for compassion,” he said.

“Notre Dame is the cathedral of Paris, one of the capital’s – and the country’s – most beautiful monuments, so we realize how symbolic this event truly is.”

It’s highly unusual for the cathedral, visited by some 13 million people from around the world every year, to be evacuated.

Police, the Paris prosecutor and church employees gathered inside the cathedral, while puzzled tourists crowded outside on the island in the Seine River that has been home to the cathedral since the 12th century.

The cathedral reopened for an evening service that church officials said would include a prayer for the man who committed suicide and other struggling souls.

Tuesday’s death comes less than a week after another unusual suicide in central Paris, when a man shot himself in front of a dozen schoolchildren at a private Catholic school in the French capital.

Jacquin said a few people had committed suicide by jumping from Notre Dame’s two towers, but he had no knowledge of anyone ever committing suicide on the altar. The Eiffel Tower occasionally shuts down because of suicides or attempts to jump off its ledges.


UPDATE:  Topless Woman Arrested At Notre Dame Cathedral

A topless activist of the FEMEN movement was arrested inside Notre Dame Cathedral Wednesday, one day after far-right essayist and historian Dominique Vesser committed suicide in the Paris landmark.

The bare-chested woman was photographed in front of the altar, pointing a fake gun at her mouth. The slogan “May Fascists Rest In Hell” was written across her torso.

FEMEN leader Inna Schevchenko commented to Le HuffPost that the protest was a message to “anyone who supports fascism and who honored the memory of the extreme-right militant who committed suicide at Notre Dame.”

On Tuesday, 78-year-old far-right activist Dominique Venner took his own life in front of the altar inside the Cathedral. According to the Associated Press, Venner ran a blog that included pieces criticizing immigration and gay marriage.

On its Facebook page, FEMEN France called the topless activist “FEMEN’s angel of Death”…

The Cathedral is desecrated.



12 thoughts on “Man Commits Suicide Inside Notre Dame

  1. Awful… the French Catholic net is full of it. That man was a right-wing, pagan, who hated the Church. He did this at this place not because Notre-Dame is a church, but because at this place thousands of years ago, pagan Celts practiced there their awful religion full of bloody human sacrifices.
    And by the way Father, your picture is not at all the interior of Notre-Dame in Paris.

    + pax et bonum

      1. In France, we already have the content of the letter. I suppose it has not been translated yet by the English-speaking medias. And also, this man is a distinguished (even if very right-wing, and with some inacceptable ideas) historian, and has vritten many books where he develops his thesis.

  2. It’s very hard for me to pass any comment but I believe no matter the circumstance we do not have the right to take life. God be merciful.

  3. I just noticed that I am the first layman to note on this entry. So far, we’ve got our priest reporter and two priest commentators. You guys are outnumbering us!

      1. I am a seminarian. Hopefully in a few year, Edmond will be able in all truth to call me Father! And I will (I already do) tremble at the thought of the incredible responsibility this name entails…

        + pax et bonum

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