“We will rebuild Notre Dame, all of us together, even more beautiful than before.”
French President E. Macron
I have passed by Notre Dame in Paris more times than I can count, always on my way to somewhere else. But, in truth, I have been inside the church only ONCE — more than 40 years ago as a student perfunctorily checking off visiting one of the world’s most iconic tourist attractions.
Each time that I have passed by since, I promised myself that I would one day join the huge lineup for a more thorough visit.
I took it for granted that anything that had survived more than 800 years would always be there.
I believed I had time.
The sadness that I and so many others experienced the day of the fire was profound. There is just so much of humanity connected to this precious landmark, and to watch it burn touched off something deep and visceral in our collective souls.
You did not have to be Catholic or French to feel it.
Notre Dame has been a temple for man’s greatest achievements in architecture, art, sculpture, masonry, stained glass and religious artifacts. Thousands have worked on it, millions have passed through it and oh my, the stories the cathedral and its contents have to tell!
The Crown of Thorns, believed to be the one Jesus wore, was placed in the cathedral in 1231 (fortunately rescued from the fire!)
Joan of Arc was beatified in the cathedral by the Pope. Mary Queen of Scots married King Francis II there. Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned emperor in Notre Dame, and of course, it is the setting for Victor Hugo’s remarkable literary work The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831)
No wonder we are in shock. Every aspect of Notre Dame is a masterpiece. It is a testament to the best of human talent, capacity and endurance. And to see it violated, we feel like we have lost a part of ourselves and it hurts.
However, with every death, there is rebirth. With the billion dollars or more already raised, with the structure intact and many of the precious relics rescued, Notre Dame will rise from the ashes and endure for another 850 years.
Thank you to so many of you who went to the trouble of looking way back into your photo albums to find the following pictures of yourselves at the cathedral.
And I invite you all to share your comments with us. What are you memories of visiting Notre Dame Cathedral?
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Diana Bishop the founder of The Success Story Program and A Woman of a Certain Age in Paris as well as a well-known correspondent with over 25 years working for CTV, CBC News, and NBC News. She loves travel, writing, and all things Parisienne.