Jennifer Nobles: Paris, je t’aime
As I write this, I am watching one of the world’s most beautiful and well-known churches burn nearly to the ground. I have never seen a structure fire like this in my 40 years, and it is devastating to watch. The Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris is currently engulfed in flames as the city watches its jewel crumble, over 850 years of history with it.
I was raised by a very Catholic mother, and begrudgingly over the years I have adopted some of her faithful leanings. For example, if I ever misplace anything it is in my nature to immediately pray to St. Anthony asking for his guidance to locate the lost item. I have attended more First Holy Communions than I can recall, and cannot enter a place of worship without crossing myself. It’s a habit (no pun intended).
There are so many reasons why the fire at Notre-Dame is devastating, not the least of which is the loss of a centuries-old structure that meant so much to so many. It occurred to me as I watched the flames leap into the sky that there is art – centuries worth – within the church, and now so many might never see it. Including me.
Among the smoke and devastation, workers are rushing, trying to save priceless works of art and the building itself, its beautiful and meticulously crafted stained glass windows and impressive architecture. Notre-Dame’s famed organ, which has been restored numerous times through history, most likely won’t survive the blaze. The church’s bell, which rang on such occasions as the end of the World Wars, might not survive to chime one more time. The intricate gargoyles that have flanked the building for hundreds of years have fallen from their perches.
Events like this don’t happen often, thankfully, and I hope that in the aftermath we may learn that some of the priceless objects contained in the building didn’t suffer as dreary a fate as I have predicted. For those of you lucky enough to have seen the Notre-Dame in person, I envy you. Keep those memories close, and maybe one day the world will be able to visit Our Lady again.
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