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
August 1, 2014 -- Updated 1718 GMT (0118 HKT)
This is how the two U.S. aid workers infected with Ebola will be evacuated from west Africa.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1818 GMT (0218 HKT)
While aspects of the fighting in Gaza resemble earlier clashes, this time feels different, writes military analyst Rick Francona.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 1829 GMT (0229 HKT)
How did al Qaeda recruit a former Florida high school footballer?
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 1108 GMT (1908 HKT)
Flowers, a teddy bear and the smells of jet fuel and death haunt the MH17 crash site.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 0354 GMT (1154 HKT)
If India and the U.S. were Facebook friends, the relationship between them would be "complicated." Can John Kerry's visit change that?
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 0048 GMT (0848 HKT)
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1303 GMT (2103 HKT)
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1835 GMT (0235 HKT)
Take a look inside Airbus' new -- and surprisingly quiet -- A350XWB.
August 1, 2014 -- Updated 0331 GMT (1131 HKT)
What're you doing after work today? If you lived in these cities you could head to the BEACH!
ADVERTISEMENT