PARIS city authorities have drawn up a plan to invest €80million in some major overdue renovation works for 19 of the capital’s churches between now and 2020.
The improvements, were one of Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s election manifesto pledges. The French Government have also pledged a further €11million, towards the renovation costs.
Since the separation of church and state in 1905, Paris city hall has owned 96 places of worship comprising of 85 churches, nine temples and two synagogues.
The religious heritage group the Observatoire du Patrimoine Religieux (OPR) although welcome the much needed investment, have also added that the investment is “well below what is needed” and it estimates that up to €500million is required.
It gives an example of the renovation works needed on Saint-Sulpice alone, which have already been funded and are budgeted at €50-€60million.
The President of the OPR, Maxime Cumunel says that crumbling church buildings pose a serious safety risk. At one church on the Ile-Saint-Louis, part of a bronze cross on the bell tower fell off as the mass was ending, and the bishop narrowly avoided being struck by it.
About three quarters of the city’s churches are listed buildings and it is estimated that around 20 of them belong on a priority list for maintenance, including Madeleine, Saint-Augustin and Notre-Dame-de-Lorette.