Ablain-Saint-Nazaire,  Ruined Church

Historical Information

The 16th-century church was kept in its ruined state as a reminder of the casualties of World War I.

The 16th-century church stand out amid a cluster of modern, red-roofed houses in the French village of Ablain-Saint-Nazaire. The “Old Church,” as the locals call it, is a somber reminder of the damages and tragedies caused by World War I.

In October of 1914, during the early months of the Great War, German forces seized the village because of its strategic location along the base of Lorette Spur. The French retaliated multiple times with no success.  Allied forces spent about a year trying to reclaim the village and other nearby locations. They shelled Ablain-Saint-Nazaire, eventually leaving almost everything in ruins. Not even the beloved church was spared.


Rather than rebuild the structure, local officials opted to keep it in its ruined state as a testimony to the casualties of war (though a lack of funding may have also influenced their decision). While a new church was being built, the villagers held their services in a hut donated by the Canadians.