More Than Stones And Mortar

Notre-Dame Cathedral is the very soul of Paris but so much more — it is a touchstone for all that is the best about the world, and a monument to the highest aspirations of artistic achievement that transcends religion and time.  It has survived so much — from the French Revolution to Nazi occupation — to watch its devastation is excruciating.”

~Barbara Drake Boehm, Paul and Jill Ruddock Senior Curator for The Met Cloisters

Steve and I visited the Notre Dame Cathedral in September, 2011.  Having loved ecclesiastical architecture since I studied it in Mr. Orr’s AP European History class in tenth grade, I was particularly keen to see the most iconic French Gothic cathedral in existence.  I was awed by its beauty, its grace, and its historical significance, and I was in tears watching it be engulfed by flames today.

Notre Dame was – is – so much more than mere stones and mortar.  I cherish Notre Dame as an example of the soaring heights that human ingenuity and spirit can achieve.  From the news reports I have read, it appears that not all is lost, that the statuary, the art, and even the stained glass have been or could be recovered – I hope that’s true.  But still, it breaks my heart to think that my children won’t be able to marvel at the gargoyles or at the ceiling arching high above them.  And yet I know the people of Paris, and those of us in far-flung places around the world who love art and architecture, will rebuild.

Go look at the beauty in the world.

10 thoughts on “More Than Stones And Mortar

  1. Well said! I’ve never seen Notre Dame in person, but when I do, I suspect what I will see will demonstrate the resilience of the people of Paris.

    • Thank you! I almost never write about world events, but I felt like I had to write something. I believe that the cathedral will be rebuilt and, as you say, will demonstrate the resilience of Parisians – which they have proven over and over again.

    • I don’t think they know exactly what caused the fire, but the news reports I read said that the current theory is that it was an accident and that it was related to the renovations. I know the Paris prosecutor is investigating but I believe as of now they don’t think it was arson or terrorism. Renovations are often the riskiest times for a cathedral, because there are a lot of extra people coming and going, electronic equipment that can spark, and substances laying around that are not usually around and that might be flammable or explosive. I’m sure we will find out more and more over the next few days, including how much of the cathedral has been saved. Last I read, the main structure was safe and most of the artwork had been removed without much damage. I read that even the stained glass windows are intact, although I don’t know if that’s true. The spire and the gargoyles are a huge loss, but it sounds like it could have been much worse.

  2. I haven’t seen it yet but it was on my bucket list. History is so important to understand what we have been through and who we are. My heart broke seeing this iconic historical structure on fire. I am glad to hear they plan to rebuild and while it won’t be the same, at least some of the old will still be there.

    • So well said, Nicole – I totally agree. History is important, more so now than ever. I’m encouraged by the reports of how much was saved, but there is still such a sense of grieving for all that was lost.

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