Traveling means being able to view in awe the splendor of Notre Dame, sitting on the Île de la Cité with the Seine River on the left and right banks of the island. Did you know that is where politics in both France and America got the designation of being left or right?
There are things you remember. Important personal milestones. Incredible places – like the Pyramids of Egypt, or the Volcanoes of Nicaragua. Pompeii.
And Notre Dame.
Seeking the soul of a place
Traveling to other countries, I seek out the soul of the place and the people. And one of those places I look are the oldest structures – the churches. From modest buildings of wood to the grandest Basillica’s, they are each the soul of the place, the people and the history of the region.
Reports are that the structure of Notre Dame is intact, if not heavily damaged. That much of the treasures inside are intact, including the 18th-century organ that boasts 8,000 pipes, miraculously left unscathed. The altar with the remarkable “Pietà” a sculpture depicting the Virgin Mary holding her dead son Jesus Christ. The Gold Cross shining through the smoke a symbol to all that this place, is a holy place.
The Crown of Thrones is safe. And much of the relics, sans those in the spire, have been saved. But we can pray that they may yet be found.
There should be a collective expression of gratitude for the French First Responders. Those who so bravely charged ahead to save this most venerated icon of religion and western history.
While horrific it could have been much worse. Almost as the hand of God came down to protect what man would destroy – even if just accidentally.
Reports are that much of the exterior stonework has survived, but it will require restoration. Which is how all this mess started. Notre Dame in Paris is known for its remarkable Gothic architecture and flying buttresses that allowed for the central nave, with its soaring ceiling to stand.
The iconic Rose Windows, celebrated in book, movies, and song, somehow survived. The stained glass that did not will be repaired when possible. Recreated when not.
The biggest destruction is too the roof and the upper floors. And the spire. But, in a fortuitous moment, the 16 copper statues of the Twelve Apostles and four New Testament evangelists escaped. Cranes had removed them a few days before the fire, and they are safely in storage awaiting restoration.
And according to reports out of Paris, the Gargoyles, Grotesques and Gothic grandeur of the exterior will need cleaning. But like all things, like Paris, should survive.
Notre Dame will continue, but the Lady of Paris will be different. Not worse, not better, just different. My only hope is that the people of France, who have become more secular, will return to the church. Support the church. (Read: Cathedrals, Like People, Die Of Broken Hearts)
For her grand-cathedrals, like Notre Dame, and humble churches, make Europe unique and important. They are windows into the soul of Western history and the importance of faith to the people and their evolution. May these younger generations take more care.