The news today of the fire and destruction of Notre Dame in Paris made my heart sink. What a terrible loss. Many, many millions of people feel a connection to the 8 centuries old gothic cathedral. As I post this, Notre Dame is still burning, its roof and spire have fallen. I can’t imagine much more of a charred shell will remain. I pray that noone was injured or killed.
I was 16 on my first visit. I was immediately awed by the beautiful arches, stained glass windows, towers, transept, arches, and side chapels. I have enjoyed more visits since then, every time I passed through Paris. These pictures were from my last visit, 4 years ago…
How does one connect with a place? It must be the intertwining of a place’s beauty, its history, and cultural significance with one’s own imprinted memories. I’ve only visited as a tourist; lit a candle, sat in the pews, listened to mass being said, walked all around it, toured the towers. I cannot imagine what Parisians who have lived with it every day of their lives must be feeling today.
One of my favorite novels, Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, tells the fictional life story of Tom Builder, a man who built cathedrals in England & France in the 12th century, as Romanesque architecture evolved into Gothic. Notre Dame was a masterpiece. Its flying butressess allowing the ribs, pillars, arches and roof to be taller, and more open inside, leaving room for its legendary stained glass windows. I don’t know how or if it will be possible to restore or repair it. But, it will never be the same. Something has truly been lost for the ages.