It was a woman visiting the cemetery who saw the smoke coming out of the church. Thanks to her, further damage was certainly avoided. This Friday, November 25, between noon and 1 pm, the religious building of Zuydcoote was completely ransacked. The perpetrator (s) of the incident entered the building, open to the public at this time of day, to engage in an act of gratuitous destruction.
Paintings upturned, furniture destroyed and statues overturned: nothing was spared. “The statue of Bernadette was completely destroyed. That of Mary is a mess. I had restored them a few years ago, these statues were valuable”, testifies Anita Denaes, guardian of the place for 10 years.
The tabernacle was also destroyed, but the ciborium that it protected was intact. This is the first time such an act has occurred in the commune. For the parishioners, the shock is immense. “It’s gratuitous wickedness. Clearly nothing has been stolen. The aim was to destroy”.
On leaving the premises, the perpetrators lit a fire using newspapers that were on site, destroying a church bench. Fortunately, fire-fighters quickly extinguished the fire that did not spread. The premises have been secured since. An investigation has been opened and entrusted to the Dunkerque – Hoymille research brigade. The gendarmes took much of the afternoon to pick up clues and fingerprints that will help the investigation.
A complaint was filed by the town hall, owner of the premises. The diocese should also do the same. Saturday evening, a funeral mass was planned in the church. It had to be postponed. The church will have to be closed for several days or even weeks.