(RELIGION NEWS) – Sometimes it's a cross of human excrement smeared on a church wall, with stolen Communion hosts stuck at the four corners. Other times, a statue of the Virgin Mary lies shattered on the floor.
Now and then, a fire breaks out in a house of prayer.
Roman Catholic churches have increasingly come under attack in France, a country so long identified with Christianity that it used to be called "the eldest daughter of the church."
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A recent fire at St. Sulpice, the second-largest church in Paris, has shed light on a trend that has become commonplace in many smaller towns.
"Who has heard of the sacking of the monastery of Saint Jean des Balmes in Aveyron? Of those teenagers who urinated into the holy water font of the church at Villeneuve de Berg in Ardèche?" the Paris daily Le Figaro asked last week in an article highlighting some of the lesser-known profanations around the country this month.