If you are French, English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, German, Dutch, Italian, Portugese or Spanish and you have a craftsperson or builder in your very distant past, the chances are your ancestor was coerced or paid to assist in the building of Notre Dame de Paris way back in the 12th century when Europe really began to blossom.
If you are an American from one of these racial groups, you are equally involved. And there were many others, from many lands.
This is a tragedy for all Europeans and those of European extraction – even those who, like the English, refuse to recognise that this is what they are.
I experienced a huge crying jag on hearing that the three main rose windows seem to have survived.
Why? Most of all – although I remember the cathedral as the place where Mary Stuart, later Queen of Scots, celebrated her marriage to Francis II of France – this relief was about the preservation of crucial craftsmen’s work that contributed to making this cathedral the unique jewel that we Europeans created in Paris over 800 years ago. Who does not remember the effect of light when entering a cathedral?
And it was also a recognition of how desperately sad it would be to lose Notre Dame at this particular moment in history.
Notre Dame is – and will be again – supremely beautiful, just like the narcissus I’ve chosen to illustrate this post. Did you read the account of the young boy, taken out by his mother this morning, Tuesday 16 April, to see the awful mess, who exclaimed: ‘She’s still there!’
How very wonderful that so many people all over the planet have understood how special Our Lady of Paris is. A spiritual home for all of us, if we wish. Whether Christian or not, she is a testimony to our many talents and aspirations if we direct them well.
And how very bizarre that this should have happened in Holy Week, just before Easter.
Let’s not let pleasure in beauty and the desire to share our talents with neighbours disappear from our lives. Even in the 12th century these were positive fuels that fired each human being involved or coerced into helping to build the miracle that is Notre Dame de Paris.