Reminder of the ‘Notre-Dame Affair’


On Easter Sunday, 9 April 1950, at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris Michel Mourre, Serge Berna, Ghislain Desnoyers de Marbaix, and Jean Rullier chose a quiet moment in the Easter High Mass to climb to the rostrum and declaim an anti-sermon on the death of God:

Today, Easter day of the Holy Year,
Here, under the emblem of Notre-Dame of Paris,
I accuse the universal Catholic Church of the lethal diversion of our living strength toward an empty heaven,
I accuse the Catholic Church of swindling,
I accuse the Catholic Church of infecting the world with its funereal morality,
Of being the running sore on the decomposed body of the West.
Verily I say unto you: God is dead,
We vomit the agonizing insipidity of your prayers,
For your prayers have been the greasy smoke over the battlefields of our Europe.
Go forth then into the tragic and exalting desert of a world where God is dead,
And till this earth anew with your bare hands,
With your PROUD hands,
With your unpraying hands.
Today Easter day of the Holy Year,
Here under the emblem of Notre-Dame of Paris,
We proclaim the death of the Christ-god, so that Man may live at last.

Michel Mourre, Serge Berna and Ghislain Marbaix
at the police station of Saint-Gervais, after the scandal

The authors of the action were all arrested by the police, and thereby saved, in effect, from the furious mob that chased them from the church. The only one held for any length of time was Mourre, himself a former Dominican monk and the instigator of the whole affair. As his fate was being decided, dozens of prominent voices from culture, the church and the state joined a debate in the newspapers on the merits or (more commonly) not, of the provocation.

The police and the Church, for their part, unable to let the insult pass unpunished, nevertheless wanted to avoid amplifying it through a public trial. After a few days they brought in a psychiatrist of questionable integrity, who recommended locking Mourre away in an asylum. Participants in the Combat debate, attentive to the case, protested, and upon the intervention of a second psychiatrist, Mourre was released on 21 April.

This posting is an upbeat of a new section of InEnArt about counterculture, guerrilla theatre and the secret history of the 2oth century whose values and norms of behavior deviate from those of mainstream society. Watch out, it starts in summer 2013 or send us a note to be the first who become involved into the InEnArt history of counterculture.

Thomas Büsch

Filmmaker, Founding Member and Secretary General of diyalog, promotion of cultural exchange with Turkey. Since 2012 he is also project manager of InEnArt.

Leave a Reply