Tourists put out fire in historic Swiss church with holy water

A couple of quick-thinking tourists earned the praise of police on Tuesday when they used holy water to put out a fire in the historic cathedral of St Gallen.

Tourists put out fire in historic Swiss church with holy water
The fire broke out in a baroque confessional. Photo: St Gallen Police

The fire broke out in a baroque confessional in the cathedral in the early afternoon but was stopped by two “brave” visitors who rushed to pour holy water onto the blaze, local police said in a statement.

Police believe the fire started when a candle placed inside the confessional set alight a curtain. The blaze then spread to the wooden seat of the confessional.

The fire, thought to have been deliberately lit, caused damages worth ten of thousands of Swiss francs to the historic object, police said.

They are now seeking witnesses.

The Cathedral and Abbey of St Gall is a Unesco World Heritage Site and its famous library is a treasure trove of medieval knowledge.






Catholic church in Valais rocked by new sex abuse claims

Accusations of historic sexual abuse have been made against around ten Catholic priests in the bishopric of Sion in the canton of Valais.

Catholic church in Valais rocked by new sex abuse claims
Photo: lightpoet/Depositphotos

The bishop of Sion, Jean-Marie Lovey, has asked the victims for forgiveness, the Swiss news agency SDA reported, quoting Radio Rhône FM.

It said the abuse of children and young people happened between the 1950s and 1990s, and all the cases were now too old for a prosecution to take place.

The paedophile priests were identified after some ten victims went to the diocese of Sion with abuse allegations last year.

Three of the accused clergymen are still alive.

One of the victims told the radio the numbers of reported abuse cases did not correspond to the reality.

He said he had met around 50 other victims in Valais, many of whom did not want to talk about what they had experienced.

The man accused the church of a cover-up, saying previous bishops had known about the sexual abuse but had done nothing except move some priests to other parishes.

But Bishop Lovey, who was appointed by Pope Francis in 2014, denied there had been an attempt to cover up the abuse.

He said priests were moved to other parishes as a preventive measure.

Between 2010 and 2016, around 220 victims informed the Swiss church authorities of abuse by ordained clergy between 1950 and 1990, SDA said.

The latest cases in Valais will be included in the church’s statistics for 2017, which have not yet been published.

In February 2017 the Swiss Bishops Conference set up a commission charged with awarding compensation to victims of historic sex abuse by Swiss priests.

The leading church authority announced it had created a 500,000 franc reparations fund to pay compensation to victims who no longer have the right to seek redress in court since the statute of limitations has passed.