Notre Dame …

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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.

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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.

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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!’

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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.

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8 thoughts on “Notre Dame …

  1. Amanda

    The sight of a building in the throes of destruction has never brought tears to my eyes before. Think the twin towers, York Minster. Horror, but not tears. What is it about Notre Dame? I have only visited it once, and can’t confess to knowing much about its history, but of all the buildings in the world, it just stands for so much and the damage is heartbreaking. But thank goodness so much has survived! And the announcement of a competition to design a new spire in inspired! That iconic building will continue, renewed, invigorated and maybe even in a better position to withstand the next 800 years!

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      Thanks for your comment Amanda – you are so right. I do think it’s part of all of us. I just hope the heat shock/stress does not cause us to lose anything more over the coming months, including the three rose windows.

      Reply
    2. Amanda

      I am sure the best of the best will be working on the fabric of the building, to secure and to heal it. Fingers crossed those beautiful windows continue to radiate their beauty. A

      Reply
  2. greentapestry

    I remember seeing Notre Dame as a teenager on my first and only school trip abroad. It left a last impression on me Cathy – such a breathtaking building. I’m so glad that almost fifty years later I returned last spring. I hope that she rises from the ashes to inspire generations to come with her sheer beauty. I’m though saddened by your suggestion that the English refuse to recognise themselves as European. I’ve lived in England all my life. My father was English and my mother was Italian. I most definitely think of myself as European. Although most of my friends have or had English parents they also think of themselves as European 🙂

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      And thank goodness for people like you and your family! As a Scots-Canadian, I’m just observing the attitude that frequently seems to prevail in England at the moment. My husband encounters it every day at work.

      Reply
  3. janesmudgeegarden

    A beautiful tribute to a beautiful building. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Notre Dame several times, from the other side (end?) of the world, having first learnt about her in French Class decades (almost a lifetime) ago. Those lessons sowed the seed of an abiding love of France and its culture.

    Reply

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