Notre Dame de Paris

« Notre-Dame est aujourd'hui déserte, inanimée, morte. On sent qu'il y a quelque chose de disparu. Ce corps immense est vide; c'est un squelette; l'esprit l'a quitté, on en voit la place, et voilà tout. » Victor Hugo, Notre-Dame de Paris (1831).

I have marveled at her breathtaking architecture and climbed her bell tower to take in the stunning views. I have worshiped here during Advent and Lent, during Holy Week and on Easter Sunday, and even just because the bells summoned me to light a candle for my mom, dad, and grandma. And each time I visit, I stand upon Point Zéro knowing that I will return to her again.  Yet, one hundred eighty-eight years after the publication of Notre Dame de Paris, Victor Hugo’s ominous words feel eerily true again tonight. Today, as I watched the Cathedral burn, the Gothic spire fall, and the medieval roof collapse, I cried for the destruction of history, art, and sacred space. Today, as I answered concerned texts, phone calls, emails, and social media messages from friends and former students near and far, my heart swelled with love and appreciation. Tonight, as I watched the news that the structure and much of the artwork of the Cathedral has been saved and that, once again, just as in the time of Victor Hugo, the faithful of the world will unite to restore this spiritual and cultural treasure, I am hopeful.

I have marveled at her breathtaking architecture and climbed her bell tower to take in the stunning views. I have worshiped here during Advent and Lent, during Holy Week and on Easter Sunday, and even just because the bells summoned me to light a candle for my mom, dad, and grandma. And each time I visit, I stand upon Point Zéro knowing that I will return to her again.

Yet, one hundred eighty-eight years after the publication of Notre Dame de Paris, Victor Hugo’s ominous words feel eerily true again tonight. Today, as I watched the Cathedral burn, the Gothic spire fall, and the medieval roof collapse, I cried for the destruction of history, art, and sacred space. Today, as I answered concerned texts, phone calls, emails, and social media messages from friends and former students near and far, my heart swelled with love and appreciation. Tonight, as I watched the news that the structure and much of the artwork of the Cathedral has been saved and that, once again, just as in the time of Victor Hugo, the faithful of the world will unite to restore this spiritual and cultural treasure, I am hopeful.

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This photo was taken 6 weeks ago. You can see the scaffolding of the restauration project that may have been the cause of the fire.

This photo was taken 6 weeks ago. You can see the scaffolding of the restauration project that may have been the cause of the fire.

The roof and spire that collapsed today

The roof and spire that collapsed today

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