Nantes Cathedral Blaze: Volunteer Charged After Admitting Setting Up Fire


Reports say, a church volunteer admitted being behind a fire that severely damaged Nantes’ St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s Cathedral on July 18 and was charged with arson.

The 39-year-old man was taken into custody and questioned shortly after the incident due to the fact that he had been closing the cathedral on Friday evening.

He got released on Sunday 19, but was taken into custody again on Saturday 25 and later charged with “destruction and damage by fire” before being put in pre-trial detention.

Lawyer Quentin Chabert told local newspaper Presse-Océan that his client is “consumed with remorse” and said he was “liberated” after admitting the incident.

The suspect told the examining magistrate he lit three fires in the cathedral, which resulted in the severe damage of a 17th-century organ and stained glass windows.

He could now be handed “a 10-year prison sentence and a fine of €150,000 euros,” Nantes prosecutor Pierre Sennès explained.

The rector of Nantes cathedral, Father Hubert Champenois, said last week that the volunteer was a Rwandan citizen who came to France as a refugee “a few years ago”.

He said he had been serving “as an altar” and had known him for “four or five years”.

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