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Rural French churches renovate thanks to Notre Dame surplus

A rural French Church

Wirestock Collection | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 05/06/24

It is estimated that between 3,000 and 5,000 of France’s places of worship, mostly old Catholic churches, are in serious disrepair.

Hundreds of French churches may soon be getting some much needed renovations thanks to a surplus of funds. The work, to be undertaken by France’s Heritage Foundation, will be funded thanks to the enormous contributions to the restoration of Notre Dame de Paris, which have left enough money that many churches in rural areas will receive some much-needed attention.

According to the Tablet, it is estimated that between 3,000 and 5,000 of France’s places of worship are in serious disrepair. Many of these churches exist in small communities that would be unable to fund the renovations, and since about 40% of them are protected historical sites they are prime for the newly minted Heritage Foundation to assist. 

President Macron initiated this deal in 2023 in order to help small towns maintain their religious buildings, many of which are mostly owned by the state. The fund drew from the Notre Dame surplus, which raised an estimated €800 million, but it also includes a private national subscription that will see donors continue to support its work.

Now the Heritage Foundation has announced the first 100 religious buildings, mostly old Catholic churches, that will receive funds for renovations. This work will be completed off of an initial €2.3 million in the first year of the support. While organizers are considering this a success, it is significantly short of the projected goal of €200 million in four years.

Still, any funding is a boon to small municipalities, where the local councils are responsible for footing the bill for such work. Under the French rules of separation of Church and State, local governments are responsible for Church building maintenance, but this means that old, run-down churches are competing with infrastructure for funding. As such, the Heritage Foundation has noted that only those towns with a population below 10,000 will be considered.

FranceHistoryNotre Dame
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