Churches are open places where you can find a lot of works of art, paintings, statuettes, goldsmithing.Works that are not uncommon to find on flea markets, at antique dealers. Or simply sold for the value of the metal they are made of. Gold « the works of the religious heritage are inalienable. We can’t sell them. » Therefore, the fraudulent origin of these objects is generally beyond doubt. The training and inventory work of CIPAR is therefore taking on all its importance.
The essential inventory
Good preservation begins above all with attention to detail: clean cornices will prevent water infiltration through the roofs, for example. « Humidity is a recurring problem in churches.These are places that live but where, paradoxically, we don’t live. We must therefore redouble our attention » . Attention that can also come from the neighbors: « tiles blown off, a cornice torn off by the wind, a broken stained glass window, if a neighbor can see it, it will allow a faster intervention. »
Churches are also sometimes broken into. Objects disappear. And we don’t always realize it. Mainly because there has been no inventory. « In churches, there are sometimes hundreds of various objects that can attract lusts.Carrying out their detailed inventory, with photos, is the first thing to do to hope to find them in case of theft. »
When exceptional pieces are part of the heritage of a church factory, they are usually kept in a safe at the bank or entrusted to a musée.Et these are copies that are on display in the church.
Theft, disaster, vandalism, the cases in Wallonia are fortunately not numerous.Situations such as the floods of July 2021 are particularly destructive for heritage, but just as infrequent.At least, we hope so. But there is also the constant, relative humidity, from which the wood suffers a lot. And the religious heritage is often made of wood (furniture, painting, statuettes, …). « It does not take especially large rises in water for there to be problems », says Vinciane Groessens again.
On the other hand, thefts can be frequent, especially after floods or a fire (fire often due to renovation and / or maintenance work). Thieves take advantage of a church that is damaged or under construction and whose supervision is less rigorous. There has been an upsurge in theft and vandalism during the lockdown.
In addition to this recently published brochure, CIPAR also provides training for fabricators.Inventory and prevention can be ensured with the support of the Center.
Vinciane Groessens came to meet part of the team of the Thy-le-Bauduin church factory.This church, in the middle of the village, is the object of special attention. « Fabricators are often elderly and dedicated people.This is the case here, in Thy-le-Bauduin, where some ideas for securing the premises are shown as an example in our brochure. » This is the case with the main door closing system.Simple, effective and above all inexpensive. The factories are out of money and it is the municipalities that finance the security work.So there is no question of throwing public money out the windows.
Jean-Pol Mazy is treasurer of the Saint-Pierre church factory in Thy-le-Bauduin. He testifies to what has been done in the church: « On the proposal of the municipality, we installed a video surveillance system, we also reinforced the closing of the doors. The whole thing was financed by the Municipality. » A safety and prevention plan has also been carried out.
The solutions are often simple and inexpensive. » And since we are not greedy , ends Jean-PolMazy, requests are always accepted by the Municipality ».