A statue of the Virgin Mary located in the middle of a crossroads in a small French village has become the subject of controversy after secularist association, La Libre Pensée, took legal action citing a historic law which prohibits the installation of religious monuments on public property.
The statue sits enthroned at the entrance to the small village of La Flotte-en-Ré, situated on the western coast of France, but the statue of the Virgin Mary is the subject of legal action in the name of secularism. The controversy dates back to May 2020 when a motorist hit and severely damaged the statue. The Town Hall subsequently decided to rebuild it identically.
When the statue was restored to its original condition, La Libre Pensée filed a complaint at the regional Poitiers administrative court. The president of the association relied upon a law dating back to 1905 which prohibits the installation of monuments of a religious nature in public places.
This is a sensitive subject for some inhabitants of La Flotte-en-Ré who believe that the religious statue is part of the historical heritage of the town.
“If it hadn’t been for this accident, there would have been no debate or even procedures,” said Jean-Paul Héraudeau, the mayor of La Flotte-en-Ré.
Previously, the same organization achieved the removal of a St. Michael statue in Sables d’Ollone, also in western France, on similar grounds, despite the protests of the local population. The regional administrative court will deliver its judgment on March 3.