Skip to main content

Man kills himself at Notre Dame Cathedral

By Stephanie Halasz and Jessica King, CNN
May 21, 2013 -- Updated 1838 GMT (0238 HKT)
Policemen outside Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral, on May 21, 2013.
Policemen outside Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral, on May 21, 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A man committed suicide in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, police say
  • The site was evacuated
  • The man, identified as Dominique Venner, regularly lashed out against same-sex marriage and Islamists
  • Right-wing politician Marine Le Pen expressed respect for him

(CNN) -- A right-wing historian and author killed himself inside the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris Tuesday in front of horrified tourists, police said.

About 1,500 people at the cathedral were evacuated, CNN affiliate BFM reported. The site is one of the world's most prominent churches and a huge tourist attraction in the French capital.

BFM identified the man as Dominique Venner, 78.

Le Monde newspaper quoted a rector at the cathedral, who said the man placed a letter on the altar and then shot himself

On his blog, Venner has lashed out against same-sex marriage and what he called a future Islamist takeover of France.

In a post published Tuesday, he wrote, "The essence of a man is in his existence and not in another world. It's here and now that you have to play out your destiny until the last second. And this last second has as much importance as the rest of the life."

In the blog, Venner voiced his support for those expected to take part in a massive demonstration in Paris May 26 against same-sex marriage. But he said their fight should not be limited to that issue, and they must also denounce what he predicted would be the replacement of the French and European population with Muslims.

"There certainly have to be new actions, spectacular and symbolic, to shake up the sleepiness, to shake the numbed consciences and wake up the memory of our origins," the blog said. "We're entering into a time when words must be authenticated by actions."

Right-wing politician Marine Le Pen tweeted about her "respect" for him. His "last gesture, which was highly political, was to try to wake up the people of France," she wrote.

Some took to Twitter to slam Le Pen for the remark.

CNN's Alanne Orjoux and Josh Levs contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2245 GMT (0645 HKT)
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 0958 GMT (1758 HKT)
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 1246 GMT (2046 HKT)
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0012 GMT (0812 HKT)
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1026 GMT (1826 HKT)
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1054 GMT (1854 HKT)
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT