Our Lady of Paris

I was in a hurry Tuesday morning and did not have a lot of time. Had I had more time yesterday, I would have said something like, “We all awoke this morning for the first time to a world ungraced by Notre Dame de Paris.” I’m glad I didn’t. Notre Dame is badly damaged, but it will be rebuilt. A hundred years from now, visitors will marvel at the Gothic cathedral, and the fire of 2019 will be another chapter in a long history of glory, decay, restoration and veneration. For what it’s worth, that’s what I think.

And in the past 24 hours, the florid language of others and their vacation snapshots have more than sufficed. Today, I can feel comfortable showing you the above vacation snapshot, which I entitled, “God, overseeing the construction of Notre Dame.” Actually that isn’t God. It’s me! My nephew, who was 13 at the time, took this photograph inside the church. It was a glass-encased diorama depicting how early construction of Notre Dame might have appeared. I suspect the display didn’t survive, but I don’t know.

I’m more of a Back-Sliding Baptist than a Fallen-Away Catholic, but you can’t love Paris and not love Notre Dame. I feel better about things than I did Tuesday. For some reason, we Americans habitually underestimate the French. (I have this crazy theory that it’s because the two national characters are a lot alike.) They are very ingenious people. After all, they built the place when Vikings were still rattling around Canada. I am glad my nephew and I got to see it.

21 thoughts on “<em>Our Lady of Paris</em>”

  1. I wore my rose window T-shirt yesterday. You’re right, though, Jimmy. It’s a lot more hopeful than the tv images of shooting flames would have led us to believe.

  2. I’ve been planning my first trip to Paris for several weeks now. Highlight of the itinerary was Easter morning mass in Notre Dame. I started packing Sunday night for our Thursday departure to Europe.

    Monday’s news was heartbreaking on many levels.

    While it now appears that the damage was much less than what we all originally feared, it will be decades before the restoration will be complete and I will never see the Cathedral in all its glory. But that is something I can deal with; the fact that future generations will be able to enjoy the artistic, historical and spiritual grandeur of Notre Dame pleases me much more.

  3. Not sure they were selling rose window tees when we were last in Notre Dame. Was stationed a couple of hrs N of Paris, summer ’52, visited Notre Dame [& the Folies Bergere] then, and on subsequent visits w/ Elaine, last I think in ’85. Have never been inside Sacre’ Coeur, but bet it wd be a good place to do Easter mass. Will do Easter morning service at BUMC wearing my purple turtle neck. Don’t have an “Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it”, nor did Elaine.
    Rue Lamarck is a long avenue that circles around Sacre’ Coeur at one end. Rue Darwin is a one-block long, pleasant residential street just a block N of Rue Lamarck. There was some delay before the French biological community came around to accepting the “Modern Synthesis” [often referred to as Neo Darwinism], the central evolutionary theory of modern biology.

  4. My sister was just there two weeks ago. An artist and a devout Catholic, she was captivated by the church. However she said that you need not be Catholic in order to be moved. When I heard that it was on fire, I was a bit puzzled as much of the church is made of stone, but did not realize that the roof was made of wood. When reports said that they were renovating, I was reminded of one of the old wood boats that went to Boblo Island in the Detroit area was being renovated and burst into flames. I believe that the boat is a total loss.

    My brother is a civil engineer and pointed out that fire prevention during renovations are usually inadequate. He also hopes that the future rebuild will include materials that are fire resistant. As it is, the timbers that were used are not available today. I am also thankful that a process was in place to quickly remove the priceless artifacts from the building. Looking at the pictures and video after the fire, I felt relieved. While there is considerable damage, I am hopeful that it can be repaired within my lifetime.

  5. This morning’s news that much of the structure and contents survived was more emotional for me than I expected. I’m a lapsed Methodist myself, but the thought of all that beauty going up in smoke was heartbreaking.

  6. As to the timbers for roof reconstruction, I recall reading somewhere of an English university that had to do some reconstruction. And they had trees in a forest on permanent reserve for just that purpose so there would be properly sized ones ready when needed. That makes me wonder if there are not some in a Royal forest somewhere, or a preserve of some sort where timbers of the right size could be found?

  7. Lutheran here, but I have always admired the artistry in, and architecture of, old [primarily Roman Catholic] cathedrals and wondered just how people managed to construct them. I have seen only a few notable ones in New York City plus the beautiful one in Montreal. The difficulties involved, however, do not make me think instantly that ETs must have been involved.

  8. @enb- Our first thought was Sacre’ Coeur, but we are traveling with my mother-in-law, and would not be able to deal with the crowds climbing all those steps up to the church. Probably will do the Madeline or St. Germain, although we are hoping/wondering if they will hold mass in the courtyard outside of the Cathedral.

    I’m not sure why they would need timber to build the roof- steel is lighter, cheaper and much more fire resistant. Regardless, I am sure a fire sprinkler system will be included in the repairs.

    From what I have read, the Cathedral has an emergency drill in place for evacuating the reclics and works of art from the building for circumstance such as this. Kudos for all involved in the planning, training and execution- obviously it paid off well

    Anyone interested in the construction of gothic cathedrals might want to read Ken Follet’s “Pillars of the Earth”. The soapy story of several late middle-ages families in entwined around the construction of a fictional cathedral in England.

    • I read that when it came out, and I think that Mr. Follet needed to do more research on building cathedrals. Back then, people were amazed that the English were able to build Salisbury Cathedral in “only” one hundred years, and the idea of one man building one in a few decades was laughable.

  9. It has started already. But then it has to be true “I heard it on the Internet” Abraham Lincoln

    Steam Boat in Winona burned during renovation – SS Normandie burned during renovation,
    Navy would not allow the boats designer open sea cocks so ship would settle on keel, so of course
    it capsized and bent keel sideways.
    Many other examples

  10. Not surprising that once a fire started in Notre Dame it would burn quickly. That wood has been drying out since the 1100’s, some of it. And no telling how many coats of varnish, paint and wax were on it. But the stonework has survived and if properly supported while repairs go on, should remain standing. Quite possible the stained glass took major hits, since it is pieced together with lead, which has a relatively low melting point. But with all the photographs, restoration of even those should be possible.

  11. Jimmy, Sorry, Notre Dame is the only cathedral on Ile de la Cité. A cathedral is the church of the resident bishop of a diocese. Know nothing further about dioceses in the Paris area, but the other churches on the island are just churches. Went to a lovely chamber music recital in the undercroft of Chapelle in ’85, when the rest of my party [in our 50s] were at L’Opera seeing “Tosca.” Tragic opera is not my cup of tea. Peace,

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