An Homage to Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris

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An Homage to Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris
With deep grief and disbelief, we watched the fire that devastated Notre-Dame cathedral on Monday night. Thankfully Paris’s brave firefighters were able to extinguish the flames and save the structure from complete destruction. We are heartbroken. But we have faith that Notre-Dame will be rebuilt, just as President Emmanuel Macron has vowed. International fundraising campaigns have already been announced. Here some of our contributors share their thoughts and memories about this majestic monument. Please feel free to share your own photos and souvenirs via the comments section below or by emailing [email protected]. “I went to bed thinking about unfathomable, unspeakable loss, dreading what news the morning would bring. It now appears that though much has been lost, much remains: and so, now to the task of rebuilding. The words of the poet Yeats come to mind: “All things fall and are built again/And those that build them again are gay.” — Janet Hulstrand “Notre-Dame has always been the heart of Paris for me. I write about French cinema, and of course it’s in films, as well as works of literature, that many first experienced the cathedral. The heart is smoldering but the building still stands and I hope it heals with the help of all of us who love the city.” — Dimitri Keramitas “As someone who was raised Catholic, Notre-Dame, for me, was not only the ultimate church but also a symbol of Heaven on Earth. Its beauty stunned me from the time I first saw a photo of it in a French textbook, and it took my breath away when, years later, I was lucky enough to stand in front of the Notre-Dame facade, and marvel at its incomparable beauty.” — Anne McCarthy “An entire forest was cut down 800 years ago to build the roof of Notre-Dame. Down inside the walls of our lady, that forest has fallen and is burning, and all of our tears can’t put out the fire. Out of solidarity, church bells are ringing here in the 20th district. This is one of the most heartbreaking moments I’ve known in my 20-some years living in Paris.” — Allison Zinder “A few years ago I had the precious opportunity to spend a few days in an apartment on the Seine. The building dated from the 16th century and had enormous wood beams with gigantic nails piercing through. But the most treasured part was the view. I snapped this picture (below) at one of the front windows. This is what the owners see every day as they move about their space. Notre Dame Cathedral is more than a place of worship. It is the marker of a civilization. The pain of seeing this monument burning also symbolizes a civilization in flames. Notre Dame has a deep and powerful affect on people. That is why the agony of seeing her burn is so universal. Culture and the monuments they leave behind provide us with more than awesome beauty; they give us a sense of solidity, of place and time; of where we have been, who we are, and where we may be going. This is a stark reminder for everyone in all countries not to neglect their cultural treasures, their markers.” –Dorothy Garabedian “Notre Dame Cathedral represents the beating heart of Paris. A spiritual refuge seeped in centuries-old history, where everyone is welcome and accepted. Whenever I pass by on my way to the left bank, I stop and stare in admiration, or enter for a moment of overwhelming peace. My favorite moments of all are spent on the river’s edge of Île Saint Louis, gazing up at this majestic beauty, Our Lady of Paris.” — Kasia Dietz “Notre-Dame is my Paris touchstone, a ritual. I arrive, put down my bags in the hotel, freshen up a bit and head to the Cathedral right away. All my hotels have to be within walking distance. It’s the center of my stay since 1972, my first trip to Paris. Like an old friend, she greets me and says ‘Bonjour, Beth. Welcome back.‘ ” — Beth Gersh-Nesic “It’s difficult to write with a devastated heart, but I want to say how my feelings for Notre-Dame have changed over the years from a sense of awe at my first meeting half a lifetime ago, overwhelmed by her age and grandeur, to a feeling of warm intimacy. She has always been there, like a magnificent elderly relative, who, you realize has suffered much, but still stands calmly amid the changes all around her. Her large Gothic heart and her fine strong bones have remained. Now that she has been so badly injured, I can only hope she will be lovingly looked after.” — Patti Miller “Sometimes, when you walk by a place often, it can become just a blur of background scenery. Not so with Notre-Dame. I pass it every day on my way home to the Ile St Louis. It has never—ever— been just part of the scenery. I always pause—to look again. Inspired by its grandeur. The articulated carving. The ingenuity of flying buttresses. Its reflections on the nighttime Seine. The rose windows, beautiful from inside and out. The wild and weird gargoyles. The sound of its bells. Its place in history. It is the heart of Paris.” — Meredith Mullins “I never stop making photos of Notre Dame. I took this photo just two days ago because the light was so beautiful and…

Lead photo credit : Notre-Dame cathedral. Photo credit: Paris Info tourist office/ cmjn

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BP's expert editorial team includes some of the city's top English-language journalists.


  • Michael James
    2019-04-18 00:03:40
    Michael James
    Yikes. If a kindly sub-editor reads this and is able to, I would be extremely grateful if you could add an extra hard-return at the end of each paragraph of my comment above, which should make it much more digestible. I forgot it requires a double-hard-return to get adequate space between paras. While you are doing that you could even add an extra "r" to Mitterand, an error I always make! (You can delete this message if you wish.) Tx.