This week: €20 million raised for French survivors of abuse
News in brief.
20 million euros raised so far for French survivors of church abuse. Administrators of the Selam fund set up to compensate survivors of abuse by members of the Catholic Church in France said the fund had reached 20 million euros, and the independent panel would now begin considering compensation payouts. A damning report published last year found that more than 300,000 children had suffered abuse by clergy or lay members of the Catholic Church.
Spanish Catholic Church agrees to work with government over disputed properties. In the 1990s, a new law allowed the Church to register properties used for religious purposes, even where it did not have formal proof of ownership. The Church registered 35,000 properties under this law, but at least 1000 properties were disputed, and the Church’s list was shown to contain duplications and included some properties that had already been sold. The Catholic Church in Spain has now agreed to work with local authorities to determine the rightful ownership of the disputed properties.
Saint Brigid’s day to become holiday in Ireland. The Irish government has agreed to make the feast day of St Brigid of Kildare on 1 February a national holiday from 2023. Read more.
Spotlight on Toulouse
Two of Toulouse’s famous churches feature local saint St Sernin. Construction began on the basilica of Saint-Sernin (Pl. Saint-Sernin, 31000) in the fourth century to house the body of St Sernin, the first bishop and martyr of Toulouse. The basilica grew during the reign of Charlemagne who gave several relics to the basilica, ensuring it became an important stop on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. The church has a solid Romanesque architecture with a series of side chapels and passageways designed to accommodate hundreds of visiting pilgrims each day.
The Eglise Notre-Dame du Taur (12 Rue du Taur, 31000) was, according to legend, built on the site where St Sernin was martyred by being dragged to his death by a bull. The exterior of the church features a tall wall steeple, making it look more like a mediaeval fort than a church. The church contains a vivid 14th century fresco The genealogy of Jacob that was uncovered when later woodwork was removed from the walls.
Saint of the week: Saint Brigid of Kildare (1 February)
Saint Brigid was a fifth century Irish saint, who probably lived at the same time as Saint Patrick, but whose life and very existence is subject to considerable debate. Tales of her childhood feature several divinely inspired events, including miraculously vomiting on a pagan druid, and seeing butter she’d given to the poor replenished. Her religious reputation and practice became more conventional over time, and she founded an abbey at Kildare. Like many European saints, relics of Saint Brigid spread far and wide. Her head is said to have been taken to a monastery in Austria, and part of it is now preserved at the Igreja São João Batista near Lisbon airport.