Monday, April 15, 2019

How Can This Happen? Notre Dame On Fire

The first time I visited Notre Dame Cathedral was in 1964.  Then again in April 1965. (I was a student in Germany that year.)

Then this picture (and the other two) was from a visit to Paris in 2016 for a 60th birthday party of a relative I first met back in 1964.

And today I see this on the internet.

Whatever one thinks of religion or the Catholic church, this building and the other Cathedrals like it are monuments to human vision, science, art.  To imagine structures so huge, with indoor spaces so magnificent reflects the impossible that humans can achieve.  To know that these structures took centuries to build reminds us of humanity's patience and persistence.

How does a fire break out in such a treasure of human ingenuity and reverence?  I don't know.  With all the stone one would think that the many, many candles could do no harm.  But parts are built of wood as well.  We'll know more.

It's not the first time the Cathedral was in disrepair.  From the Cathedral's own website:

"One of the most notable monuments in Paris (and in all of Europe for that matter) is the Notre Dame Cathedral. This Catholic treasure is over 800 years old. It is located on a small island called the Ile de la Cite in the middle of the River Seine. The building of the cathedral was completed over the course of 200 years; it was started in 1163 during the reign of King Louis VII and was completed in 1345. 
As is the case with most notable historical monuments, The Notre dame Cathedral Paris has its own share of both the glorious and the tragic historical moments that will forever remain indelible in the mind of people everywhere. Among them is the crowning of Henry VI of England right inside the cathedral in 1431. The Cathedral was at one time in a stage of total disrepair and close to the point of being demolished, but was later saved by Napoleon who himself was crowned Emperor in 1804 inside the Cathedral.   
After restoring the Cathedral back to its formal beauty and in the midst of World War II, it was rumored that the German soldiers might destroy the newly installed stained glass. It was therefore removed and only reinstalled again after the war had ended. The steps were taken because of only one particular archeological glass window called the Rose window which is supposed to be the biggest glass window in the world produced in the 13th century."

Meanwhile, from CNN:
"French President Emmanuel Macron just announced that, starting tomorrow, he will launch an international fundraising campaign to rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Macron, speaking from the scene, described the fire as a “terrible tragedy," but added the “worst had been avoided." He noted that the cathedral's facade and two main towers did not collapse during the fire.
“I’m telling you all tonight — we will rebuild this cathedral together. This is probably part of the French destiny. And we will do it in the next years. Starting tomorrow, a national donation scheme will be started that will extend beyond our borders," Macron said."

1 comment:

  1. It's hit very hard here in Britain where building heritage is taken very seriously; even with the centuries-long rivalry between England and France, we are all connected through this place. It is European.

    I'm certain the donations will come to do the work needed and Notre Dame will live on for centuries, patched-up as all old buildings must by those who love them.


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