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The cast of Bernadette of Lourdes (Bernadette de Lourdes website/Laurent Attias, Hauguette and Prosper)

The producer of a popular French musical about St Bernadette Soubirous has filed an appeal against an official ruling that a state school cannot use a free cultural pass for a class trip to his show because the topic violated France’s secularism laws. Source: The Tablet.

The dispute over the musical Bernadette of Lourdes revived a recurring dispute about the country’s 1905 law on the separation of Church and State. 

Producer Roberto Ciruleo said state school authorities in the Paris region had only looked at the title of the musical and ruled that pupils on a school trip could not use CulturePass – an official program giving minors free admission to cultural events – to see it.  

“It’s not because this project was born in Lourdes that it automatically speaks about religion,” said Mr Ciruleo, who needs CulturePass funds to finance the musical.

The apparitions witnessed by Bernadette are only mentioned briefly, he said, while most of the musical deals with the opposition she faced from officials and Church leaders.

“The issues resonate with all young people today: the relationship to their family, to authority, to rumours, pressure, the truth,” he wrote on social media. Most of the cast is not religious, he added.

State schools in France sign the Charter of Laïcité, which forbids them from promoting any religion, so authorities ruled against using CulturePass for a school trip to see Bernadette of Lourdes. However, pupils can use the pass if they seek access to such events individually. 


St Bernadette musical barred to French schools by laïcité ruling (By Tom Heneghan, The Tablet)