Court Orders Removal of Saint Michael’s Image in France

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The administrative court of Nantes, France, has confirmed the decision to remove an image of St. Michael the Archangel from public space in a town in the country

Newsroom(09/22/2022, 16:35, Gaudium Press) The administrative court of Nantes has confirmed the decision to remove the image of St. Michael from the town square Sables d’Olonne.

The image was installed, in 2018, in front of the church of the same name. On December 16, 2021, the administrative court of the region decreed the removal of the image.

The decision of the Nantes court therefore confirms the previous judgment, as it considers that the installation of a religious symbol in a public space “is prohibited by article 28 of the law of December 9, 1905 concerning the separation of Church and State.”

In effect, the court interpreted that the image of Saint Michael is a religious symbol and not a cultural, traditional and historical object, thus confirming the removal of the Archangel.

The mayor of the city of Sables d’Olonne, Yannick Moreau, regretted the decision: “The city deplores this decision and regrets that the patrimonial, cultural, artistic and historical character of this work has not been recognized by the Administrative Court of Appeal,” he explained.

Last March, the mayor had organized a vote to find out the opinion of the inhabitants. More than 94% of the voters opted to keep the image of Saint Michael, patron saint of France.

The image of Saint Michael has been present in the city since 1935. It had a prime location in the courtyard of a private college until 2017. In 2018, the image was placed in the square in front of St. Michael’s church.

During the installation ceremony the image was blessed by a priest. The anti-clerical association Free Thought (Libre Pensée) petitioned the city’s administrative court for the removal of the image, on the grounds that the image violates the law of secularism in the country. (FM)

Compiled by Teresa Joseph

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