I was 15 when my parents told me what my 16th Birthday Present was going to be:
A trip to Paris.
My father, who had fought in Europe during WWII, would never talk about his war experiences, except for his time in France. He loved everything about the country, and wanted me to have the opportunity to go.
It would be my first time outside of the country. First time to get a passport. First time to be on my own (I was going with a school group). I was so excited.
America is a young country. When compared to the rest of the world, our hundred, two hundred year old relics are nothing compared to other countries.
You got that immediately when you arrived in Paris.
Somehow, it mixes the old and the new. The modern with the ancient. But, above all else, the history is respected.
As I watched the fire engulfing Notre Dame, I sat there, with the rest of the world, my heart breaking with every news report. Notre Dame wasn’t just a church. It was history.
Living, breathing history. It’s beauty was inescapable, whether coming upon it by foot, or by boatride down the Seine.
Walking in it, was to be awed. It was a church, but, it was so much more. It was massive. It was impressive. It was awe inspiring, and humbling. You could spend a whole day inside, just being respectful and taking in all of the history that it had offer. The architecture made your mouth fall open. The beauty of the stained glass….the place was made for pictures. The clicks were what you heard inside of the church. It was always full of tourists, yet, it wasn’t noisy.
The thing about Notre Dame wasn’t just that you were there…but, you knew that you would return, and bring others with you.
I had already been planning Peanut’s first time to Paris…and, of course, Notre Dame would be on the list. There are things that sustain us. That we believe will always be there. The continuity is something that calms the nerves. Soothes the soul.
I am not Catholic, but, felt completely welcome there…as I am sure that many others of different faiths have been as well. It was a house of worship, but, it was a cultural symbol of Paris. Of history that touched on religion, but not only religion.
Construction of the cathedral officially started in 1163, and wasn’t finished for almost 200 years. As I recall, it was a site of worship long before that — every time repairs have been done in the lower levels, prehistoric artifacts are unearthed. It’s a terrible loss, to France and the world, but the cathedral will be rebuilt again.
Why Notre Dame matters, in one Victor Hugo passage
Translated from French by Microsoft
Good news: all the works of art were saved. The treasure of the Cathedral is intact, the Crown of thorns, the Holy sacraments. #NOTRE_DAME
Notre Dame is one of the world’s great treasures, and we’re thinking of the people of France in your time of grief. It’s in our nature to mourn when we see history lost – but it’s also in our nature to rebuild for tomorrow, as strong as we can. pic.twitter.com/SpMEvv1BzB— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) April 15, 2019
I think for many folks Notre Dame is also a symbol, in addition to being a building and a house of worship. One, for its place in French History and secondly as a living museum of classical Western Civilization (if there is such a thing) for the artistry of the building itself and those items that were stored (and now supposedly saved) within.
Hannah Groch-Begley @grouchybagels
I know this doesn’t help, but we have exquisite 3D laser maps of every detail of Notre Dame, thanks to the incredible work of @Vassar art historian Andrew Tallon. Prof Tallon passed away last November, but his work will be absolutely crucial