Suicide at Notre Dame a Warning to the West

The mainstream American right has remained almost entirely silent about the recent suicide of the French historian, Dominique Venner. The reasons for this, I do not know—perhaps it is a squeamishness about the symbolism of his final act, or a lack of understanding of it. Perhaps it is a refusal to see what the people of France already see, and are rising up against.

Venner shot himself on the altar of the Cathedral of Notre Dame on May 21st, 2013. The image of this act ought to make us pause in awe. The American left immediately dismissed him as a discontented right-wing Catholic crank, simply angry at the recent legalization of gay marriage in his country. None of them examined his last article, or his suicide note, which tell a different story: and one which ought to be heeded by the rest of the West.

The Christian mind has long rejected the possibility of suicide as a good, ever since Augustine’s prominent discussion of it in the first book of The City of God.  In Chapter 22 of that discussion, Augustine denies that men who commit suicide can ever be admired for their greatness of soul. Given that Augustine’s prime task was to write “against the pagans,” this line of argument is understandable; he wants to discourage any admiration of individual pagans. I would like to suggest that this restriction be revisited. A Christian may admire the heights of pagan virtue without condoning its sinful aspects. After all, Augustine’s firm condemnation of all things pagan cannot be entirely reconciled with the Thomistic embrace of pre-Christian Greek philosophy in the High Middle Ages. Admiring Venner’s cause is not the same as condoning his self-annihilation.

Just maybe, there is something we can learn from the spirit of his deed, if not from the deed itself. It certainly seems clear that Venner did not mean for men of the West to follow his example and commit mass suicide; he meant for it to shake them out of their malaise. It was a cri-du-cœur against the modern age.

Dominique Venner was, from my understanding, neither Catholic nor formally pagan: his spiritual life was found in a kind of reverence for the heritage of Europe; that heritage includes both pagan and Christian religion, and so he admired both. His suicide in the cathedral was a final act of respect, as well as a powerful setting for the message he intended to convey. He saw the cathedrals of Europe as artistic manifestations of the genius of his people. In his suicide note, “Reasons for a Voluntary Death,” he explained,

I am healthy in body and mind… However, in the evening of my life, facing immense dangers to my French and European homeland, I feel the duty to act as long as I still have strength. I believe it necessary to sacrifice myself to break the lethargy that plagues us. I give up what life remains to me in order to protest and to found. I chose a highly symbolic place, the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, which I respect and admire: she was built by the genius of my ancestors on the site of cults still more ancient, recalling our immemorial origins. [Emphasis mine.]

Venner sees himself as the founder of something new, in defense of something old. This calls to mind another founding, born out of rape. That is the founding of the Roman Republic, which was inspired in large part by the suicide of a Roman woman, Lucretia. As recounted by Livy, the chaste and honorable Lucretia was forcibly raped, after much protestation, by Sextus Tarquinius, son of the king. After her rapist left, she immediately sent messages to her father and husband, begging them to come to her along with their close friends. When they arrived, they came to her chamber and found her weeping for her lost honor. She said to them,

“There are the marks of another man in your bed, Conlatinus. My body is greatly soiled, though my heart is still pure, as my death will prove. But give me your right hand in faith that you will not allow the guilty to escape. It was Sextus Tarquinius who returned our hospitality with enmity last night. With his sword in his hand, he came to take his pleasure for my unhappiness, but it will also be his sorrow if you are real men.” They promised her that they would pursue him, and they tried to appease her sorrow, saying that it was the soul that did wrong, and not the body, and because she had had no bad intention, she did no wrong. “It is your responsibility to see that he gets what he deserves,” she said, “I will absolve myself of blame, and I will not free myself from punishment. No woman shall use Lucretia as her example in dishonor.” Then she took up a knife which she had hidden beneath her robe, and plunged it into her heart, collapsing from her wound; she died there amid the cries of her husband and father.

This act inspired the revolution that overthrew the monarchy of Rome. It may be worth noting that it was this revolution and founding that also inspired the founders of the American regime. But the Roman founding was born out of suicide and shame—not the shame of Lucretia, but the shaming of her husband and father by the horrible acts done to her. So too, Dominique Venner’s suicide mirrors of the suicide of the West, and is meant to shame us.

The final piece that he wrote on his personal blog, “The May 26 Protests and Heidegger,” gives a clearer explanation of his death than does his suicide letter. It contains a warning and a call to arms. He addresses this warning to the French anti-gay marriage protesters, who, in his opinion, have addressed their rightful indignation at the wrong thing. Venner himself expressed horror at the notion of “gay marriage,” but his objection to the culture of relativism goes deeper than that. He relates the words of an Algerian blogger,

“In any case,” he said, “in 15 years the Islamists will be in power in France and will remove this law.” Not to please us, we suspect, but because it is contrary to Sharia (Islamic law).

This is the only superficially common point between the European tradition (that respects women) and Islam (which does not respect them). But the bald assertion of the Algerian is chilling. These consequences will be far greater and more catastrophic then the detestable Taubira law.

Ultimately, the objections of the May 26th protesters will be moot. Gay marriage is a smaller symptom of the disease. In the end, the suicide of Europe will result in conquest by Islam. He continues, “The May 26 protestors cannot ignore this reality. Their struggle cannot be limited to the rejection of gay marriage. The ‘great replacement’ of the population of France and Europe, denounced by the writer Renaud Camus, is a far more catastrophic danger for the future.”

“Polite street protests,” as he puts it, are not enough. He calls for “real intellectual and moral reform,” which ought to begin as quickly as possible. And it is here that Dominique Venner tells us (what he hopes will be) the meaning of his death:

It certainly will require new, spectacular, and symbolic gestures to stir our somnolence, shake our anesthetized consciousness, and awaken the memory of our origins. We are entering a time when words must be authenticated by deeds.

What does Venner’s revolt mean for Americans? We are not as far down the suicidal road as is Europe. We have more time, but just a little. His warning should be a source of reflection for us, just as much as it is for France and for Europe.

His final published words were these:

We should also remember, as brilliantly formulated by Heidegger in Being and Time, that the essence of man is in his existence and not in “another world.” It is here and now that our destiny is played out until the last second. And this final second is as important as the rest of a lifetime. That is why you must be yourself until the last moment. It is by deciding, truly willing one’s destiny, that one conquers nothingness. And there is no escape from this requirement, because we only have this life, in which it is our duty to be fully ourselves—or to be nothing.

Of course, this is not what Christians believe. Our home is not this world. But that does not mean we can renounce our duty to care for the good, the true, and the beautiful in this world. Those of us who do not join monasteries are called to care for the political and the highest civilizational things. Dominique Venner, historian and former soldier, sought to found a new resistance to the collapse of European civilization. Whatever civilizational Christians think of his means, we ought to admire his end.

Marjorie Jeffrey


Marjorie Jeffrey is a Ph.D. candidate in political theory at Baylor University, and currently a summer intern at the Institute on Religion and Democracy in Washington, D.C.

  • Jambe d’Argent

    Thank you, Marjorie, for this very interesting article. Your stress on Dominque Venner as a political and cultural (as opposed to religious) thinker is, in my opinion, quite correct. You have also raised some perplexing questions about suicide and Christianity. For example, did the martyrs of Cordoba commit suicide by deliberately insulting Islam? What about Saint Maximilian Kolbe and Jesus Christ Himself? I’m sure that some casuistically inclined Catholic wannabe theologians who regularly comment at this site, will find a tonne of quotes from the Fathers of the Church to “prove” the difference between suicide and sacrifice but, at the bottom of the matter, is there really one? Thanks again for making us think.

    • JERD

      Does anyone really believe that the sacrifice of Christ is the equivalent of a deranged man jumping off the highest bridge in town? (And, I am not a “wannabe theologian.” I just prefer common sense.)

      • Jambe d’Argent

        Think again. By the way, which theological explanation of Christ’s sacrifice do you prefer? As you probably know, there are several and they are not mutually compatible. None of them has been declared heretical, either.

        • JERD

          Suicide is suicide. It is the deliberate taking of one’s own life. It is not the placing of one’s own life at risk for the life of another. The former is mental illness, the later is heroism.

          There is no middle ground. Whether a man jumps off a bridge, or whether he shoots himself in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, he is deranged. It cannot be condoned; it is not heroic; it cannot be glorified. Those who even suggest that there is something admirable in suicide are insensitive to the plight of the mentally ill and their families. This article and some of the responses that hint at a nobility in suicide are the product of intellectual snobbery. Suicide is real. It is a tragedy that scars family and friends – sometimes permanently. It is not an intellectual game to be played out on a blog.

          • Jambe d’Argent

            Well, that’s just your belief, as good as its opposite because you cannot prove that you are right. Romans deified the suicides, Christians condemned them, the Jains (interestingly, considering their utter respect for life) allow a suicide by self-starvation, etc., etc. Suicide certainly isn’t an intellectual game but what makes you think that I – or other posters here – see it as such? In order to understand something, we have to talk about it. This is not “intellectual snobbery”. Please don’t put words into your opponents’ mouths, it is simply dishonest.

            • James_Locke

              The problem with your comment is that it adds nothing while attacking nothing. Please refrain from statements like ” that’s just your belief” as it is a fallacious replay to an argument. I think that this person was trying to argue that this suicide rather than send the intended message sent the contrary one given that Christians in Europe will and rightfully should reject this act rather than celebrate it as a rallying call.

              • Jambe d’Argent

                “The problem with your comment is that it adds nothing while attacking nothing.” I have no idea what are you talking about, care to explain? “Please refrain from statements like ” that’s just your belief” as it is a fallacious replay to an argument.” No, it is not because real arguments are logically verifiable while beliefs are not. JERD presented a belief, not an argument, and I pointed this out. Your objection is thus completely invalid.

                • JERD

                  It is an axiom that suicide is wrong. It is a first principle that requires no independent proof.

                  If you insist my statement about suicide is only my subjective belief and not an objective truth, then you must concede that you are a moral relativist who contributes to the degradation of Western culture. And is it not because of the moral relativism of the West that Venner despaired of the inevitable Islamic dominance of France?

                  If even in this forum contributors cannot tell the difference between suicide and heroism, then there is little hope that Venner’s prophesy will not come to fruition.

                  • Jambe d’Argent

                    “It is an axiom that suicide is wrong.”

                    An axiom for whom? Do you say that it is universal? If so, you’re completely wrong as my examples from other times and cultures have demonstrated.

                    “If you insist my statement about suicide is only my subjective belief and not an objective truth, then you must concede that you are a moral relativist who contributes to the degradation of Western culture.”

                    This statement is so arbitrary that it doesn’t deserve an answer. Nice try at inducing guilt but it’s not working because it is so pathetically manipulative.

                    • patricia m.

                      Suicide is wrong for Christians. Do you deny that? Not saying the guy was a Christian, but I affirm that suicide is totally forbidden for Christians.

                    • Jambe d’Argent

                      Yes, that’s correct. But it wasn’t wrong for the Romans, it isn’t wrong – under certain conditions – for the life-respecting Jains, etc., etc. Ergo, this condemnation is neither universal nor axiomatic.

                    • Bono95

                      “suicide wasn’t wrong for the Romans.”

                      Neither was contraception, divorce, abandoning children, cruel corporal punishment, overeating, slavery, or watching people and animals kill each other for entertainment.

                      I don’t know about you, but I’m not taking any moral cues on suicide from the pagan Romans.

                    • John200

                      Check your Catechism, J d’A and JERD. Suicide is wrong, always and everywhere, 100% and without remainder. CCC 2280-2283, 2325.

                    • Jambe d’Argent

                      But CCC applies to Catholics only, doesn’t it?

                    • John200

                      The truth applies to everybody. You are hung up on the fact that Catholics know the truth, while you pretend you don’t.

                      You shouldn’t act like this….

                    • Bono95

                      Catholics are called to spread the Truth of their faith everywhere, and that includes teaching that suicide, like all other forms of murder, is gravely sinful, disordered, and destructive.

                    • I_M_Forman

                      You fail to prove anything. Go discuss suicide with the Hemlock Society. We are the People of Life here. You cannot prove a single thing. To you there is no God and you are his prophet perhaps?

                    • Jambe d’Argent

                      You are ranting, Mr. Forman.

                    • I_M_Forman

                      The rules for this conversation were laid out by you sir. The Hemlock Society or Al-Jazeera would be more than happy to have you discuss this matter of suicide with them unless of course your intent here was to never to have a debate here in the first place. You come to a Catholic website and demand answers on your atheistic terms? Now who is doing the ranting?

                • I_M_Forman

                  So what happened before the big bang? See Jambe, you have no logically verifiable answer for that. We know that where logic fails Faith begins. The burden of proof falls on you my friend, you seek to refute people’s Faith but yet you fail to prove anything at all. A debate is not all questions on the part of one party. You’re still a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Your purpose here is to try to sow doubt.

                  • Jambe d’Argent

                    You’re ranting, Mr. Forman.

                    • I_M_Forman

                      Since you have no answer you fall back on your template answer – “You’re ranting, Mr. Forman.” No, I just got your number, you know it and since you cannot answer the question you then attack the questioner.

                • James_Locke

                  By arguing that the person’s argument is subjective (since it is of course, from their point of view) and therefore invalid, you cease all possibility of discussion. Thats what im saying. Now, the rest of your comment was fine and we can talk about it. But I HATE it when people say “well, thats just your opinion” because it is A) obvious and B) in no way a problem. He stated his position and you then sorta stated yours. He is taking issue with a Catholic essentially making a claim about suicide that is essentially not-Catholic ( I think)

            • I_M_Forman

              My friend, you want to understand suicide? Then you are certainly in the wrong place. The Hemlock Society must have a web page somewhere or the other. You won’t find your answer here, that is if that what your purpose really was.

          • Alberto Rosso

            I think our sympathies should be for the poor buggers who had discovered the corpse (and perhaps witnessed the self killing) and those who had to clean up afterwards.

    • Adam Baum

      Wow, are you confused.
      Saint Max surrendered his life in a successful effort to save another, not in a futile gesture of self-indulgent protest.

      • Jambe d’Argent

        Think again.

        • Bono95

          St. Maximilian’s heroic sacrifice wasn’t about math and numbers. It was about saving a man who was a total stranger, but who was also a fellow human being who needed help and saving, and short of someone else taking his place, wasn’t going to get it. Come to think of it, real sacrifice doesn’t often involve much worldly profit (for the sacrificer anyway), but it always merits unimaginably great spiritual profit. From the world’s point of view, it doesn’t make sense, but God’s ways and plans are very often like that. Some make worldly sense later, while others never become clearer until one reaches the other side of eternity.

          • John200

            True, the arithmetic does not matter very much.

            Still, the man Kolbe saved was the father of a family, and that was part of the reason Kolbe willingly took his place. He was trying to do good for more than one person.

            • Bono95

              In which case there was a “profit”. Maximilian saved a father and hopefully thereby saved his whole family. Thanks for pointing that out.

          • Jambe d’Argent

            So it is another mystery then? A very flexible and convenient explanation, not to mention requiring no mental effort…

            • I_M_Forman

              Ah Jambe, you are the wolf in sheep’s clothing that slips into the flock. Your camouflage of the Sacred Heart fails here. You are clearly unaware why Jesus died for you too. Or is it that you are too “sophisticated” for the Catholic Faith? Every responder gives a perfectly good answer to the questions you pose, but you are not here for the truth – you are here to mock. Dance with the Devil all you wish, but the Devil always demands his due. Time moves on, and unless you repent, you will realize your folly. It was true, you add nothing and it sounds like you believe in nothing. My friend, nothing from nothing leaves nothing. That’s a math that even you can understand.
              I’ll offer a prayer up for you after all, Jesus even died on the cross for you as well.

              • Jambe d’Argent

                Is there anything in your posting that I could reply to?

                • patricia m.

                  And Notre Dame is Catholic, so why did the weirdo have to blow his brains in OUR church? Go jump in the Seine.

                • I_M_Forman

                  Yes, are you too “sophisticated” for the Catholic Faith?

                  • Alecto

                    Is the Catholic Faith confined to rubes?

        • Adam Baum

          Everybody dies. Back to the blackboard for you.

          • Jambe d’Argent


            • Adam Baum

              Sure, after I tell you.

    • Bono95

      Jesus died to save every person who has ever lived. He saved those who lived before He came to earth and who died in His friendship, those who lived during His time on earth, and everyone who lived and died afterwards until the end of time.

  • JERD

    A stunning article. To take a life, no less our own, is a great evil. It is an intentional rejection of the creative act of God. It is ultimately a statement from man to God that says, “I am God! I am your equal!”

    To “admire” an end that might arise from an evil act, is an evil itself, though perhaps less great. If we claim to admire the possibility of a result from an evil act – a result that is purely speculative, since we do not have the prescience of God to know the future – we fall into the trap in which the secular world finds great comfort – the ends justify the means. We unwittingly become complicit in the means.

    The author, nor I, have any idea what Venner’s tragic death will yield. Nor do we know what his remaining days in this world would have given to the cause of truth had he lived.

    No doubt God’s mercy now pours upon Venner.

    There is nothing to admire here. But, much to pray for.

    • Ib

      Well said, JERD. I will pray for Mr. Venner. But whatever his intention, one cannot use evil means to achieve a good end. That suicide is an evil means was not something invented by St. Augustine to tweak pagans. It comes from the Ten Commandments: Thou shall not kill. Suicide was universally condemned by Christians in the ancient Church. It seems our author needs a refresher in Roman Catholic moral theology and its tradition.

      Venner’s suicide bears all the same marks as that of Yukio Mishima in 1970. His reliance on Heidegger (a philosopher who never publicly repented of his Nazi affiliation), gives us a possible hint of Venner’s frame of mind. Lets just say he was not hopeful.

      This is the exact opposite of what a faithful Roman Catholic should be. As Chesterton wrote in “Orthodoxy,” chapter 5:

      “Not only is suicide a sin, it is the sin. It is the ultimate and absolute evil, the refusal to take an interest in existence; the refusal to take the oath of loyalty to life. The man who kills a man, kills a man. The man who kills himself, kills all men; as far as he is concerned he wipes out the world. His act is worse (symbolically considered) than any rape or dynamite outrage. For it destroys all buildings: it insults all women. The thief is satisfied with diamonds; but the suicide is not: that is his crime. He cannot be bribed, even by the blazing stones of the Celestial City. The thief compliments the things he steals, if not the owner of them. But the suicide insults everything on earth by not stealing it. He defiles every flower by refusing to live for its sake. There is not a tiny creature in the cosmos at whom his death is not a sneer. When a man hangs himself on a tree, the leaves might fall off in anger and the birds fly away in fury: for each has received a personal affront. Of course there may be pathetic emotional excuses for the act. There often are for rape, and there almost always are for dynamite. But if it comes to clear ideas and the intelligent meaning of things, then there is much more rational and philosophic truth in the burial at the cross-roads and the stake driven through the body, than in Mr. Archer’s suicidal automatic machines. There is a meaning in burying the suicide apart. The man’s crime is different from other crimes — for it makes even crimes impossible.”

      • Facile1

        This is the reason why I decided to follow you. But I must add:

        As a parish volunteer who was trained to deal with ‘people suffering from depression’, we were first trained to assess the subject’s potential towards suicide. We were told to remove ourselves to safety if there is serious doubt and to call authorities who are better trained and equipped to deal with the potential for violence.

        One should always remember, the ‘suicidal’ are ‘homicidal’. One cannot love one’s neighbor better than one loves one’s self. And one cannot love one’s self if one cannot believe one is loved by GOD in the first place.

        A suicide rejects GOD, his neighbor, and himself.

        I no longer work as a parish volunteer because of my health. But the time I have on my hands have led me to reflect deeply on women who commit abortion.

        Making abortion legal does not help a ‘suicidal’/’homicidal’ woman. Making abortion legal merely allows authorities (the doctors, the police, the priests etc.) to ignore the very real suffering of the woman.

        Don’t waste your prayers on the suicides. They are beyond the reach of consolation. Pray for the women who in the grip of a suicidal impulse is seriously considering ending a life.

  • Alecto

    Thank you for this article. I confess without any context, I thought Venner another sensationalist. The radio silence after this horrific act explained nothing. Whether or not we choose to fight the war, the war is raging. It rages in the culture, on many fronts, across borders, and yes, time.

    I am biased, I love France, I love the French, the history and the culture. But what is there now is not “French”. French is Martin of Tours defeating the Muslims, Bernadette Sourbirous, Therese of Lisieux, Guy de Monfort, John Vianney, It was, is and always will be Catholic. It hardly seems possible to separate Catholic from the culture as these are, in the case of France, as intertwined as Christ’s humanity with his divinity. I don’t want to imagine France overtaken by Muslims, and yet the French are the instruments of their own destruction. Multiculturalism produces a moral vacuum which is filled by Sharia.

    • patricia m.

      The Americans are the instruments of their own destruction as well. Obama is considering giving refugee status to loads of Syrians. Let’s bring them home, boys. Somalis and Iraqis weren’t enough of a thrill. Oh as if it wasn’t enough to give money, weapons and training to terrorist groups over there. Let’s make the new Osama bin Laden out of Syria.

    • Bono95

      Don’t forget St. Clothilde, St. Madeline-Sophie Barat, St. Jean-Frances de Chantal, St. Genevieve, St. Cloud, St. Isaac Jogues, St. Catherine Laboure, St. Louis de Montfort, St. Louis IX, and last but not least, St. Joan of Arc.

      May St. Joan and St. Martin lead the French and their admirers and supporters throughout the world in the coming spiritual battle against militant secularism on the one hand and militant Islam on the other.

  • Tony

    I think he might have been thinking of Lucan’s Cato, upon whom Dante bases his portrayal of Cato in Purgatory 1, seeing his suicide as an act of conforming himself to Christ, giving witness to the value of liberty.
    I recall also that western liberals “canonized” the Buddhist monks who immolated themselves in protest of the Vietnamese leader, Bao Dai, in the years before Diem and before the full outbreak of the Vietnam War. But this self-immolation they ignore. Too busy playing around with complete nihilism and sexual libertinism and supine concession to the State.

  • publiusnj

    The 3 comments so far go off on the suicide issue (note: I am completely
    opposed to suicide), but the more important issue raised by Venner’s last
    messages is the cultural suicide of the West. Islam has been trying to conquer
    the Christian World for 1400 years now and Europe is littered with the sites of
    that effort. Most notably there are the great battle sites that mark the high
    points of the Jihadists’ advance into Christendom such as sites throughout the
    Baltic (e.g., Kosovo) plus Tours, FR, Vienna, Granada, Lepanto, Malta, etc.
    Then there are the marks of the repeated sea raids. For example, “saracen
    towers” spot the Italian coastline, which at one time served as lookout
    points against Muslim raids on the Coast. Many still exist; I had a delightful
    meal at “Il Torre Saraceno Restaurant just South of the Amalfi harbor

    Until now, Christendom resisted and maintained a culture that allowed people
    to develop so much that we hold dear (liberty, equality, fraternity) but which
    the Islamic World would destroy. Simply put, the”Equality” desideratum has led
    us to forbid any discernment in allowing people into our countries. The future
    Venner predicts of Islam taking over is therefore only a “demographic shift”
    away; yet the deracinated West reacts like the frog in the ever heating water by
    ignoring the evidence because elections are still proceeding and politicians see
    Muslim voters as just another set of votes. So what if those voters belong to a
    culture that does not believe in equality or the will of the people? After all,
    if they become the majority, their insistence on Sharia as a substitute for
    democratically arrived at laws will be the will of the People. Even if that
    risk is perceived, politicians can “whistle past the graveyard” with the thought
    that “they’ll change as they become part of the mainstream.” Huh? the Arab
    Spring is not a harbinger of Western Values but of Radical Islamization. What
    is really happening? Most politicians have little worry about a future beyond
    the end of their careers.

    • Paul McGuire

      More perpetuation of the conservative myth that Islam is the enemy and trying to take over. There is not now and never will be a risk of Sharia law taking over the country, especially in the United States. It is all fear-mongering politicians spew to get their constituents to rally behind their cry to marginalize an entire group of people. It is much easier to engage a group of voters to rally behind hate of an outcast group than it is to engage them intellectually.

      • Hrefn

        Dominique Venner did not share your opinion.

        • James_Locke

          Obviously, but the real question whether or not it is even possible short of a violent revolution for Islam to actually make a serious takeover of a country.

      • publiusnj

        A myopic view. As I said: the frog is sure things are not heating up because of his starting point (some point in the 21st Century late enough removed from 9/11 that he is comforted by Obama’s assurances that it is time to spend our money on Guantanamo Closure Diplomats and lawyers to prosecute the ringleaders rather than on boots on the ground…except in Syria perhaps). In truth, though, Islam has been an enemy of the Christian West since before the first Torre Saraceno ever went up. Indeed since before Gibraltar got its name from the jihadist Tarik in the Eighth Century AD.

      • Alecto

        You should have a chat with Christians who have converted from Islam. Heed their warnings if you won’t heed ours.

      • Bono95

        There may be no current chance of radical Islamists conquering America, but Muslims of all stripes are slowly and subtly taking over modern Europe as this article points out, and in the past they seized much European land by force. It took the Spanish more than 700 years to drive them out of Spain, and if the Christians hadn’t won the Battle of Lepanto, Islam would have taken Europe more quickly and more violently. The Muslim faith began in the (then) insignificant desert outpost of Mecca, and nearly all the lands that the Muslims occupy now or ever occupied were stolen and ravaged. Islam is a religion of warfare. All faithful Muslims are supposed to subdue, convert, or kill non-muslims, remain staunch in the Islamic faith under pain of death for apostasy/conversion, and must be ready and willing to kill any Muslim who leaves the faith, be he father, son, brother, etc.

        • wri7913

          The Muslim occupier of the White House is working to subvert the Second Amendment in his quest to disarm the American people all the while providing weapons and material to Al Queda fighters. What more proof do you need that we are already be “conquered” by Muslims in America?

      • Steven Piper

        Islam IS the enemy and has been since the seventh century when it was born. The last of the Moslem invaders weren’t driven out of Catholic Spain until 1492, the year Columbus sailed; in 1453 Constantinople fell to the Turks; in 1571 Don John of Austria defeated the Turks off the coast of Greece in a major naval battle that arguably changed the course of modern European history; in 1912-1913, the Ottomans were finally driven out of Greece and Bulgaria… Do you see a pattern here? The age-old conflict between Christendom and Islam was temporarily deflected by the rise of competing secular totalitarianisms in the form of Russian Communism and German Naziism during the 20th century, but that historical respite is now over: We’re back to the main event.

        • ponerology

          The muslims are a puppet group of another sect; divide and conquer.

      • Adam Baum

        You need a little trip to Dearbornistan.

        • Alecto

          I grew up in that city. No need!

      • wri7913

        You can ignore what people are telling you about Islam and it’s quest for world Domination. Just don’t ignore what THEY are telling you. To ignore their own words is to act with willful blindness.

        “If we are practicing Muslims, we are above the law of the land,” said Mustafa Carroll, executive director of the Dallas-Fort Worth CAIR branch.

        “Those who stay in America should be open to society without
        melting, keeping Mosques open so anyone can come and learn about Islam. If you choose to live here, you have a responsibility to deliver the message of Islam … Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faiths, but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only
        accepted religion on Earth.” Omar Ahmad Co-Founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR-SFBA Executive Committee Member

        “I wouldn’t want to create the impression that I wouldn’t like the
        government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the
        future…But I’m not going to do anything violent to promote that. I’m going to do it through education.” Ibrahim Hooper Cair Spokesperson

    • Steven Piper

      ‘Liberty, equality, and fraternity’? I think not. That impossible slogan is the product of the diseased minds which gave us the French revolt against God in 1789. True liberty of the person is invariably antithetical to any abstract notion of equality. I commend to you the classic text by Dr. Kuenhelt-Leddhin entitled “Liberty or Equality” which was reprinted a few years back by Christendom Press. The footnotes are extensive and somewhat abstruse at times, but are well worth the effort of pursuing them.

      • publiusnj

        The Liberty etc. list was a mere shorthand for 2000 years of Western respect for the individual. I agree,in fact, that the French Revolution had very unsavory aspects, but I wanted to get to the heart of the Culture War issue which–as you note in a separate reply to P. McGuire–is that Islam has been at war with the West since the Seventh Century.

    • Clare Krishan

      Torre Saraceno liek the one in Toarmina (the town in Sicily where the late Sopranos actor James
      Gandolfini was to appear was part of the Islamic emirate of Sicily for
      almost a century) were built by the Saracen conquerers (or their local Amalfi turncoat allies) they’re not Christian edifices, see here:

      • publiusnj

        Your cited article actually makes my point. Islamic attacks on Southern Italy actually led to Islamic control for short periods. However, your contention that the torri saraceni were NOT Christian is incorrect. Here is a description (unfortunately in Italian) of the purpose of the towers: ” Sono i resti di un sistema di allarme e difesa contro gli assalti dei pirati
        barbareschi e dei Turchi ….” Translated: “They are the remains of a system of allarms and defense against the assaults of barbarian pirates (read Norse) and Turks….” See:

    • ponerology

      Do we really have (or have we ever really had) democracy? It seems to be such a fluid idea….and what of liberty, equality, fraternity? Are they concepts or realities? And before whom are we equal- God or the state?
      The so-called ‘Arab spring’ has been brought on over the last century really as part of the grand plan by the enemies of Christianity (and I don’t mean the Arabs) to continue the fall of Christianity so that the bestial state may reign supreme. And “the state” is comprised of those who have plotted the fall of Christianity for centuries.

  • Hrefn

    Consider two men. One, despairing of the world and himself, hopeless and miserable, ends his life. The second, a soldier whose comrades are pinned down by enemy soldiers in a machine gun nest, watches as his friends are killed one by one. Seeing no other way forward, the soldier grabs a satchel charge and assaults the enemy emplacement, fully recognizing he will die in his attempt to help his comrades.
    I maintain that the two situations differ morally, though in English we might term both actions suicidal. The intent of the first man is self-obliteration. The second man is motivated by that love which is praised by our Lord as the greatest, laying down his life for his friends.
    Dominique Venner believed himself to be the second man. He assaulted the forces of moral relativism in accordance with his best understanding. He was not a Catholic, and was not informed by a Catholic conscience, and he chose a way which is closed to Catholics. Nevertheless, there is much to admire in him. I would not bury him at the crossroads, and I pray God have mercy on his soul.

    • JERD

      He may have believed he was the second man, but in fact he was tragically mistaken. He was the first.

      One can imagine that all poor souls who commit suicide do so in the course of their “best understanding.” They understand that their escape from this world will be the best for everyone – their family, their friends, indeed, themselves. Venner presumably thought that his suicide would be the best for “the cause.”

      Such understanding is malformed. Suicide is a manifestation of narcissism.

      Venner is not to be held in esteem. He is to be pitied and prayed for.

      • Hrefn

        Yes, his conscience was malformed. He would have done well to consider “Let us do evil that good may result” is a rationale explicitly rejected in Scripture (Romans 3:8).
        Still, he thought he was charging the enemy’s guns. In his method, he chose poorly. (And on the altar where Our Lord’s blood is offered, he dared to spill his own. In this, he chose exceedingly poorly.) But I cannot fault his courage and absolute commitment. To the extent that he believed he was a martyr, who believes there is a cause worth dying for, and not a suicide who believes nothing is worth living for, I hope the Lord deals kindly with him.

      • detch

        I agree. Suicide is the culminating final act of a (usually) long-lived narcissist individual, leaving in his/her wake much confusion and guilt to the immediate family and those closest to him/her. To off oneself on the altar of the cathedral shows it in spades. How truly sad — for Venner.

    • Marianne polkowski-burns

      As a compassionate person, I pray that God have mercy on his soul. We can analogize to the end to try to make sense of his decision, yet it does not comport with Jesus’ total love and gentleness for the human spirit. This analogy with war actions (especially the phrase “seeing no other way forward”) does not make complete sense. Why always pull the war card out of your pocket to make rationality of something…. war itself is barely rational! Venner’s self-obliteration was not the only way out! He let his mind — pure stubborn rationality of his kind — rule his heart which was submerged below the surface of too much intellectualism. France will survive in a new way without this action of Venner’s.

  • JJones

    “Venner shot himself on the altar of the Cathedral of Notre Dame on May
    21st, 2013. The image of this act ought to make us pause in awe.”

    This unfortunate, despairing man desecrated the altar of the Cathedral.

    What high-minded rot in this article. Flee, flee to the hills if this is where academia leads you.

    • Hrefn

      Venner was not despairing if his latest writings are honest, he was desperate. Despair and desperation are not the same thing. He retained hope that his act would alert Europeans to their peril.
      You are free to say he was misguided, but you should not falsely characterize him as despairing.
      It may seem a subtle difference, but it is not.
      As to his choice of venue, he saw it as homage to his civilization and his ancestors. Of course, I doubt many of his ancestors would agree with him regarding either his act or its locus, so it is an odd way to express respect.
      He did not intend blasphemy

      • James_Locke

        Suicide is the ultimate act of despair. The act of self negation is only possible when one no longer regard one’s existence as worth perpetuating. This is despair. His writing might not have been despairing, but his actions revealed a conscience far removed from one of proactive, revitalizing work.

      • patricia m.

        From the Merriam Webster online:

        Definition of DESPERATION

        1: loss of hope and surrender to despair

        2: a state of hopelessness leading to rashness

        Related to DESPERATION

        Synonyms: despair, despond, despondence, despondency, forlornness,hopelessness

        You’re wrong then. Desperation is THE SAME as despair. And boy was he desperate, in despair, in desperation, to blow his brains off in the middle of the church.

        • Hrefn

          Ok, my last comment on this. I do not approve of M. Venner’s act. I am the one who quoted Romans 3:8 above.
          But the word desperate is also defined and used to describe a situation which is nearly hopeless. I was using it in that sense. To say that one is in desperate circumstances is not to say there is no further possibility of a good outcome, but only that the situation is dire, and the chance of a good outcome is not great.
          There is a popular saying, that desperate times call for desperate measures. Logically, if there is no possibility of success, why make any efforts at all?
          M. Venner clearly hoped his suicide, which he saw as a self-sacrifice, would serve to rally Europeans to his cause. If he did not entertain that hope, why go to the bother of writing a manifesto and shooting himself in the middle of a cathedral? If all he wanted to do was die, he could have just swallowed a bottle of pills and quietly gone to bed.

    • James_Locke

      I wonder if the Bishop will perform an exorcism and re-bless the altar now as is the SO of deaths in the sanctuary.

      • Gerard Plourde

        It is my understanding that this was done immediately (within 24 hours of the act).

        • James_Locke

          Oh very good. I’m really pleased to hear that.

  • patricia m.

    To be honest, I think what he did was actually highly disrespectful to us Catholics. There are better forms of protests. I endorse Manif Pour Tous and Hommen (the guys that took over Roland Garros final match).

  • James_Locke

    I totally, 100% disagree with this article. His death is not only profoundly immoral, but also symptomatic of the death of Western culture. “It certainly will require new, spectacular, and symbolic gestures to stir our somnolence, shake our anesthetized consciousness, and awaken the memory of our origins. We are entering a time when words must be authenticated by deeds.” Suicide is not going to achieve this end. In fact, it is going to come across as a surrender to the sleep of Europe. The greatest way to combat the problems he highlights would have been to live.

    Also: ” In the end, the suicide of Europe will result in conquest by Islam. ” How? When? Why? This is like saying Mormons will take over the USA.

    • Jambe d’Argent

      “This is like saying Mormons will take over the USA.” A very poor comparison, just look at the relative numbers.

      • James_Locke

        well, i was talking about the quick growth.

    • I_M_Forman

      By their twisted ideas of diversity and political correctness. Europe needs to return to its spiritual Catholic Roots. Islam does not allow tolerance. The West does. Seems pretty clear what will happen.

      • James_Locke

        I disagree and this is why: the West has very very strong, redundant layers of government that prevent radical changes form occurring rapidly without a total negation of government first.

        • wri7913

          Unfortunately having Politicians with little regard for the laws that were created previous means your belief is ill-fated. In America, we have a rogue criminal Administration who is fervently working to subvert American Laws regarding the Second Amendment while providing Weapons and material to Al Queda fighters. This would have been unthinkable 10 years ago. With a compliant American Media and willfully blind populace, the current regime has been unfettered in breaking various laws.

          The recent scandals of the current regime make Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal look like jaywalking in comparison with no consequences as of yet.

    • JimmyChonga

      In order to curb their declining birth rates (which have been in negative numbers for many years now) the French government actual PAY an INCOME for women to stay home, rear and raise children. The Muslim population of France has sky-rocketed under this attempt by the French Gov’t to regain populous. In the end, the French are just TOO FRENCH to be concerned enough with France to do much about it. The Muslims WILL overtake France, it’s a matter of simple mathematics and that alone.

  • tonyo

    Interesting piece, Marjorie. An individual suicide as emblematic of the cultural, moral, demographic suicide of the West. (Though one would prefer battle to surrender). And as for those willfully deluded souls who ignore the Islamist threat to the West; since they are primarily liberals and secularists, they will be the first to feel the weight of the sword (metaphorically and, unfortunately, literally).

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  • CharlesOConnell

    Wow, too much muck in some of these comments to wade through.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    Many Muslims, and especially Muslim women, are manifesting their confidence in democracy and proclaiming their adherence to its values.

    The president of the Muslim women’s movement Ni Putes Ni Soumises [Neither Sluts nor Door-mats] Sihen Habchi, in a forceful attack on “multiculturalism” has demanded “No more justifications of our oppression in the name of the right to be different and of respect toward those who force us to bow our heads”

    Rachida Dati, herself a Muslim and former French Minister of Justice (garde des Sceaux) told the National Assembly that “The Republic is alone capable of uniting men and women of different origins, colours and religions around the principles of tolerance, liberty, solidarity and laïcité making the Republic truly one and indivisible” Likewise, Fadela Amara, another Muslim and former Secretary of State for Urban Policies has declared that “For this generation, the crucial issues are laïcité, gender equality and gender desegregation, based upon living together in harmony throughout the world, and not only in France”

    People have even coined the term, « La Beurgoisie » from the Verlan (slang) term «beur » for Arab to describe the new, educated, integrated middle class. They are amongst the most vocal advocates of the principle that public education should be «gratuite, laïque et obligatoire » [free, secular and obligatory]

    • slainte

      Rachida Dati, Fadela Amara, and Sihen Habchi may owe a greater debt of gratitude to their own Islamic tradition than to France’s enlightenment principles.

      “While the Enlightenment may have been concerned with reason, its champions were not too worried about truth when it came to Islam. They not only shamelessly plagiarised philosophy, science and learning from Islam, but the very hallmark of Enlightenment, liberal humanism, has its origins in Islam. It is based on the adab movement of classical Islam, which was concerned with the etiquette of being human. Islam developed a sophisticated system of teaching law and humanism that involved not just institutions such as the university, with its faculties of law, theology, medicine and natural philosophy, but also an elaborate method of instruction including work-study courses, a curriculum that included grammar, rhetoric, poetry, history, medicine, and moral philosophy, and mechanisms for the formation of a humanist culture such as academic associations, literary circles, clubs and other coteries that sustain intellectuals and the literati. The adab literature and institutions were, in fact, what enlightenment was all about in Islam. One cannot have a revolt on behalf of reason in Islam because reason is central to its worldview: reason is the other side of revelation and the Qur’an presents both as “signs of God”. A Muslim society cannot function without either. While Muslims can hardly be exonerated for the decline of reason and learning in Muslim civilisation, it was colonialism that as deliberate policy destroyed adab culture in Muslim societies.

      But Enlightenment Europe swallowed the adab system, including textbooks, en masse. However, since it was a product of an inferior culture and civilisation its origins had to be shrouded. Thus, classical Arabic had to be replaced with another classical language, Latin. This was followed by a systematic expunging of all traces of the influence of Islamic thought on Europe. From the days of Voltaire right up to 1980, thanks largely to the efforts of Enlightenment scholars, it was a general western axiom that Islam had produced nothing of worth in philosophy, science and learning.”

      Ziauddin Sardar, The erasure of Islam

      • wri7913

        What a steaming load of crap.

        • slainte

          The Moslem population residing in Europe, as a whole, has not rejected Islamic tradition and is not assimilating or conforming to western cultural or ideological norms. I suspect that the views expressed by the three women referenced by Mr. Paterson-Seymour do not express the views of most Moslems residing in France or Europe. They are the exception, not the rule.

          Ziauddin Sardar’s subjective reconstruction of Islamic contributions to historic progress (including the Enlightenment) would be more consistent with the worldview of a Moslem living in contemporary Europe, although traditionalist Moslems would likely reject Sardar’s call for multi-culturalism and plurality.

          The French Enlightenment’s (and the Reformation’s) rejection of objective truth opened the door to subjective interpretations of many things, including Mr. Sardar’s thoughts on the very meaning and origens of the Enlightenment itself.

  • I guess Heaven wasn’t worth it to him. Sad.

  • Tony

    Isn’t it rather odd to have a lengthy post on a man most commenters here will not have heard of before, and not mention at least in passing that he was, if not a fascist, then strikingly close to that ideology? That he was part of an infamous paramilitary as a young man and didn’t exactly back away from those roots later on? That his last blog post, quoted above, compliments the National Front? None of this necessarily invalidates Venner’s ideas, but it’s a pretty glaring omission nonetheless.

  • Facile1

    An atheist uses the recent legalization of gay marriage to commit suicide on Catholic sacred ground in order to warn the government of France of the imminent danger from Islamic jihadists.

    I think Venner managed to alienate everyone.

  • cestusdei

    If France wishes to save herself she must reclaim her Catholic faith.

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  • Guest

    ” As recounted by Livy, the chaste and honorable Lucretia was forcibly raped,….”
    Is there another rape? Rape is by force.

  • disqus_xp4GYx7DZk

    Well, when you quote Heidegger, how is it a surprise that this man despaired and checked out? Heidegger? No, thanks. I’ll take St. Augustine any day…

  • Nick

    Unless a person is mentally unstable, the act of suicide (for whatever reason) is a “cowardly” act – plain and simple! If Venner’s act was to grab the attention of the West – he could of done it another way.

  • RC

    Suicide is always morally wrong only God has the right to take the life He created. away from the person who has decided to “play God”. The only exception which is growing by leaps and bounds is the growing number of persons undergoing deep Depression. And for those who think that Depression is just as matter of feeling “the blues”. It is NOT! Imagine that the chemicals in the brain and neuronal circuitry are so off base that all YOU feel is utter despair and BOTH psychological and physical pain! Only God can judge what went through this man’s mind/brain. But IF he was one of the growing numbers of men undergoing through deep Depression ,treated for via psychotropic drugs or NOT under any prescription drugs then all you have to do is look around and see how many returning vets from our previous wars are committing suicides at rates higher than the the given population. Within the psychiatric/gender world, women attempt more suicide but men commit more suicide. Women withdraw while men “act out!”

  • Mary

    The problems, as I see it, is colonization. Had France and other Europeans not colonized Africa, India, etc. then these Muslims would have no entry into their countries. It’s payback of a sort compounded by the rampant relativism and anti-Christian tendencies infecting most of Europe.

  • Fr.Duffy Fighting 69th

    While, as a catholic I can not condone suicide. I share in Venner’s despair at what has happened to western civilization at the hands of the forces of apathy, cynicism and aberrant political correctness. The rise if radical islam is merely a symptom of the moral decay of the west. If occidental political, social and religious institutions had maintained their vibrancy then islam would not have even acquired a toe-hold. But now it is filling the vacuum left by the almost extinct judeo-christian, democratic and capitalistic mores of the past.

  • JimmyChonga

    Assuming you are correct in your analysis, I do hope Venner’s message, sealed by his own hand, does not die with him. Yet, I cannot help but ponder with some sense of skepticism. I am reminded of what was said in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 16:19-31) when the rich man entered the afterlife and began to suffer the eternal flames. He begged God to release Lazarus in order that he might WARN his associates of their fate. To this request, this response was given: “THEY HAVE MOSES AND THE PROPHETS”. [Where is Moses and the prophets but in the sacred scriptures and where is this archive of the sacred scriptures? In the confines of the holy sanctuaries across France, which are now less populated with French on any given Sunday than attend Mass in Red China]. Then, this statement follows: “NOT EVEN A MAN RAISED FROM THE DEAD WILL BE ENOUGH TO CONVINCE THEM.” Yes, if the life of Christ Himself, whose life, passion, death AND resurrection are not enough to convince them, I am certain that the death of a mortal such as Venner, though for seemingly a higher purpose, will soon fade from living memory and with that – the unique identity and personality of France and it’s people.

  • franco

    I’m at a loss of why I should admire this. He, in the last analysis, took the cowards way out; and instead of questioning his philosophical “armementaria” he just decided he didn’t want to play any more, and left us clean up the mess. It was beneath him. Sin of pride, me thinks. May God have mercy on his soul.

  • IntellectOne

    This final act of Venner’s suicide, at the altar of God, is a perfect example of the devil convincing and outsmarted Venner , the man, that suicide is the way to achieve a good.
    Didn’t Jesus, Himself , warn everybody about the devil? Jesus is the one that authored the Lord’s Prayer. “lead us not into temptation , but deliver us from evil”.

  • Cassandra

    I was astonished watching the current flooding of Lourdes, France. Is the destruction of this beautiful, miraculous shrine of Our Blessed Mother relaying the message that Dominique Venner attempted to give?

  • julianx187

    People overplay the threat of Islam. Islam is less able to withstand the onslaught of secularism then Christianity, and will eventually collapse. the birthrates of second generation Muslims in European countries are hardly higher then the native population. Read “How Civilizations Die” by David Goldman. They are human and are as likely to be tempted by an easy and carefree life.

  • Marianne polkowski-burns

    Love is the answer to the problems stated in the article above. Love is the message preached b yJesus and is the response we must have, along with compassion and the realization for dignity for human life. This message left by the historian is a poor example for others, especially the younger adults who suffer with a hard life they may face. Suicide is not the message of love for the human spirit.
    On another note of protest to this suicide, look at what the nuns have done to give to society and gain respect as well as be supremely inspirational. Read the book Thank You Sisters (editor is from St. Anthony Messenger) and find out how others make a loving, giving and blessed political response!
    This historian is elderly and I suspect (as a medical person) that Venner’s brain cells were affected by aging physiological changes. Surely he could have shared love with one other person on this planet and made a difference.

  • Camillus

    What is taking place; has taken place before. We are in the “jihad” of the Moslem international nation. When will the west wake up? Hopefully, before it is too late. This man gave his life in testament to something and among that something; is a call to be aware…of more simply to wake to what is taking place around us. Man’s power is not sufficient to stem this tide; but that of Christ can and will account for a reconciliation.

  • Janus

    Those who condemn Mr. Venner’s actions by saying that suicide is the act of a narcissistic individual may wish to consider removing the log from their own eyes. Venner proved through his life his dedication to France and to Europe, to their traditions and their future. I do not approve of all his actions: he wished for Algeria to remain part of France, a strange arrangement considering the current circumstances. In his final act, he proved his devotion by giving his life in an act which can only be called sacred – acting in accordance with higher principles. It was said that he thought with his “head” rather than his “heart”. If by this is meant that he allowed his convictions to guide his actions rather than fear or comfort, then no higher compliment can be paid.

    Ultimately, Venner’s act is not a rebellion against gay marriage, or even against Islam. The militancy of Islam in Europe is a symptom of the decline, not the cause. The cause is a rotten core, the liberal spirit which has its roots in the ideas which were brought forward in America by men like Paine, Jefferson, and Hamilton as much as they were in France by Rosseau and others. Islam, facing its own battles, is ultimately the spiritual friend of Christian civilization even as it may be the political enemy on the battlefield. Each upholds the form of the Traditional civilization based on a higher order. Each has been a target for eradication by the internationalist doctrines of the West.

    Venner gave his life on the altar – literally. Those who belittle his final deed had better have a good answer to the question “well then, where were you?”

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  • Jackryanvb

    Very well said Miss Jeffrey. I note that in these dark, depressing times it is our women who show the most courage fighting against cultural Marxism and the Islamic invasions.

  • Clay Johnson

    Venner’s suicide and its relationship to American social structures didn’t go entirely unnoticed among American writers. Thank you for this piece and you may benefit from reading this short piece, penned on the day of Venner’s death:

  • Breezeyguy

    Wow – I never even heard about this. Thank you for the article. I cannot support his action. But I do pray God forgives him and receives him. He meant it as the strongest form of protest he could offer, still it was not his right to do so.

  • Edmist

    Ahh yes it is gay marriage that will end western society not the rampant divorce which no heterosexual killed himself at the steps of Norte dame when divorce laws were liberalized hypocrites vipers … Home of the lizards and spiders……

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