Father Emmanuel Pic from Notre-Dame parish told La Bien Public news that since nothing of great monetary value was damaged, it seems the vandals wanted to attack the "heart of the Catholic faith."
"Nothing of value has been broken, but it is the intent that is very shocking. This is what characterizes profanation," Pic said.
The vandals seemed to have known that attacking the altar and the Eucharist would be "a very strong symbol for (parishioners), since the hosts consecrated during the previous Mass are no longer just a piece of bread in the eyes of Christians" but the body of Christ, he added. The priest also posted photos of the desecration to his Twitter account. Mass resumed at the parish after a Mass of reparation was said by the local archbishop.
In a statement posted to the group's newsletter, Ellen Fantini, executive director of the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe, joined local priests, bishops and civil authorities in condemning the "shocking" acts of vandalism.
"It is our sincere hope that the perpetrators are brought to justice and that awareness of increasing anti-Christian hostility in France reaches the public square," she said.
In a statement posted to Twitter on February 13, Prime Minister of France Edouard Philippe also condemned the acts ahead of a meeting with the country's bishops.
"In one week, in France, 5 degraded churches. In our secular Republic, places of worship are respected. Such acts shock me and must be unanimously condemned. I will tell the bishops of France at the meeting of the forum of dialogue with the Catholic Church," he said.
Besides the confession in the incident at St. Nicholas Church, investigations are ongoing as to the perpetrators of these acts of vandalism.
While it is yet unclear if the incidents are at all related, they recall the series of attacks and vandalism that the Catholic Church in France and Belgium experienced in 2016 by the Islamic State. The worst of those attacks included the murder of Fr. Jacques Hamel, who was killed by jihadists while celebrating Mass at a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in Normandy. The assailants entered the church and took the priest and four others hostage. Local law enforcement reported that the priest's throat was slit in the attack, and that both of the hostage takers were shot dead by police.