French First Communion: Modern France

Figure 1.--Here the Communicants and the altar boys pose outside the Church after the First (Solumn) Communion ceremony. The reader who sent is this photograph thought it might bectaken about 1950. Another reader writes, "I don't think this photograph was taken 1950. The clothes to me look more like the early 1960s. The little girls wear dresses that look like 1963-65 styles. All the boy Communiants wear long pants suits, this suggests the 1960s. The little boy in front of his mother at the left- is wearing an outfit called a 'costume bloomer' which was fashionable (1958-68). They were dome for boys 1-4 years old. Many little boys wore this outfit rather than rompers at the time. Also notice the woman with thr bhat, vb Untill 1970 women in France had to wear hats when they entered church.

The French people began to question the Church during the French Revolution. As the Revolution progressed, it turned highlt anti-clerical and religious. (This is one of many major differences with the American Revolution.) Liberals and Republicans during the 19th centruy struggle to limit the power if the Church. Actual atheism was promoted by Socialists and Communists in the late 19th century. This by the 20th century began to weaken the religious devotion of the working class. Here the support of the Church for conservative forces helped to alienate the Church from the working class. We are not sure just how this affected the intertest of working-class parents to have their children do First Communion. We suspect that it was more common in middle-class families. Today France might be called an esentially pagan country. Few French people attend church on Sunday. Many French will identify themselves as being Catholic, but by this is meant culturally Catholics. Most French people do not take seriously the meraphysical principles of the Church. Many also do not accept Church teachings on issues like aborion. Even so, many French children including children from non-religious families will still do First Communion. We wonder just how children doing First Communion think when they know that their parents do not take religious seriously. The ceremony is becomong an essentially social event rather than a religious celebration.


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Created: 12:40 AM 6/7/2011
Last edited: 3:46 AM 6/7/2011