Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Dispute over location of Madonna statue resolved with creative solution

 Virgin Mary statue in French town to be ...

A dispute over a statue of the Virgin Mary in La Flotte-en-Ré on the French Atlantic coast has been settled after several years with a creative solution.  

As the broadcaster "France 3" reported at the weekend (online), the statue was officially re-dedicated on Friday after it had been re-erected just a few metres from its original location. 

The new location is on a private property that donors had bought for the statue.

The background to the dispute is the debate about the separation of religion and state in the country (secularism), which also concerns religious symbols in public spaces. 

The case is particularly curious because the crossroads where the statue initially stood was originally privately owned and only later became public land. 

The statue was erected in 1955 as thanks for the fact that the village had survived the Second World War largely unscathed.

When the statue was rammed and destroyed by a car in 2020, the local council decided to rebuild the Madonna true to the original. 

However, a secular association appealed to the administrative court and referred to the French secularity law of 1905, which prohibits the erection of monuments of a religious nature on public land - and was proved right. 

After several appeals, the Administrative Court of Appeal finally ruled that the statue could not stand in its original location. 

Several private individuals then got together and bought a small plot of land in the immediate vicinity, where the Madonna is now allowed to stand.