Bucking French Tradition, City Sets Up a Kind of Holy Quarter

Scott Sayare, New York Times, Apr.02

Set above a sweep of green farmland, the crumbling stone chapel at the center of this village met the spiritual requirements of its Roman Catholic residents for nearly four centuries. But Bussy Saint-Georges is no longer just a village.

It is now a “new city” of 25,000, a planned development of hundreds of cream-colored apartment complexes, tile-roofed houses, schools, banks, shops and parks, linked to nearby Paris with a highway and a regional train. A great many of its residents are now immigrants from the former colonies of North and West Africa, the Antilles, China, Laos and elsewhere — a new France in concentrate — and the city’s religious needs are no longer as modest.

And so at the edge of town, an “Esplanade of the Religions” is under construction, a sort of holy quarter in the fields that includes a mosque, a synagogue, a Laotian Buddhist pagoda and a $20 million Taiwanese Buddhist temple, said to be Europe’s largest. Nearby, a small cross already overlooks the city from atop the 115-foot glass spire of an enormous Roman Catholic church, built at the turn of the century about a mile from the old chapel.

Read the complete article here.