Saturday, December 01, 2007

Swiss church under siege

Treating a wave of vandalism against its stained glass windows as the equivalent of a natural disaster, the community of Monthey have banded together to entomb their church's beautiful windows, in order to save them.

Thanks to the tireless French-language news site BafWeb for bringing attention to this story; my translation of a tragically symbolic defense against violent "youth", as a besieged Swiss church sacrifices outer beauty for inner peace:

Soccer balls, stones, and rubber bullets: following a renewal of attacks upon the Catholic church of Monthey, the parish has put protective measures in place for their stained glass windows.

Sign of changing times, the church must protect its stained glass windows from vandals by imposing “armor-plating”!

Approximately 10,000 francs have been devoted towards this construction project, said parish priest Henri Roduit. “Acts of vandalism have always existed, but increasingly the phenomenon has taken on proportions too important [to ignore].”

And the pastor adds: “We are confronted with three sorts of vandalism against these stained glass windows. Besides soccer balls, there are stones thrown and rubber bullets fired from pistols.”

Facing up to the increasing frequency of these incidents, the parish wanted to take preventative measures, [because] of the high costs of repeated repairs. “The system chosen by the parish Council has the advantage of associating a defense against projectiles of all sorts along with protection against the cold. The plate-glass installed in front of the stained glass windows are made of a very solid composite material.” What’s more, the discretion of this process does not weigh upon the aesthetic. And let us remember that a stained glass window can be admired from the interior of a church. ...
Hiding the treasures of European culture behind increased layers of armor plating may speak well of the ingenuity and resilience of the remaining true believers, but what else does such a gesture suggest? It would be more reassuring that they would view their communities as a whole, and their very nation with the same pride, and would take measures on a larger scale to diminish the scale of "youthful" urban violence forcing those capable of appreciating the beauty of a stained glass window to remain indoors.
Are unrepentant thugs and vandals as inevitable as a winter frost? Maybe post-christian Europe has come to think so, if the remaining faithful few view a good defense as the best offense.

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