Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Mother of All Cathedrals

Sometimes things happen thousands of miles away that slice right through your heart.

On Monday after I had left work I saw that my daughter had sent me a text, asking me whether I had heard about the big fire in Notre-Dame. I had not - I don't check my phone at work and I don't go online outside of work-related tasks. Therefore, I was oblivious what had happened that evening in Paris.

I checked in on the European news when I came home, and what I saw filled me with deep sadness. Watching that beautiful steeple fall in the flames... on top, the smoke and the fire raised very unpleasant memories. Someone once said that there is a forest in the roof of the cathedral - centuries-old timber of oaks - and it burned up like that. Half of that roof was still from the 13th century (in comparison, the roof of the Cologne cathedral was built with steel in the 19th century, a decision that was very controversial at that time but proved to be a wise choice).

I saw footage of a robot vehicle sent into the cathedral to retrieve some of the artwork. Firefighters tried to save some of these treasures. It seems that a lot was saved - but there is artwork that is lost forever.

The beautiful stained glass windows - many of them made with medieval glass (just think about that!) - seem to have survived the fire. Those big windows in the choir are stunning and how much do I love the rose windows.

Since there was a lot of renovating and reconstruction work going on (maybe the cause of the fire?) it was just luck that many of the bronze statues on the outside of the church like the apostles were removed just a week before or so.

When I was in Paris the last time I visited Notre-Dame while there was a mass going on inside which added a special atmosphere to this place of worship (and I'm not a religious person).

Like in so many catholic churches and cathedrals in Europe there were many places where you could light a candle. Their warm light put a beautiful glow in so many nooks and corners (and no, as far as I know they didn't cause this fire).

So many details on the outside of Notre-Dame - you could spend a lot of time looking at them and probably still haven't seen all of them.

I do hope they will rebuild. For me it's the heart of Paris. It's on the Île de la Cité where Paris began. Notre-Dame is the mother of all cathedrals, serving as a sample for so many Gothic cathedrals. I can't even imagine what this loss means to the French people.

And I'm forever grateful that my daughter was able to visit Notre-Dame back in the summer of 2014 and could also listen to the magnificent ringing of the bells.


Red Rose Alley said...

This is a lovely post, Carola. What has happened recently hit home for Nel and Jess, as they visited Notre Dame many years ago, and it's close to their heart. I love your candle photos especially, as Catholics do light candles when praying at times. The stained glass windows are magnificent. Such a sad thing that happened, and thinking of the people in France.


Magdalena said...

Liebe Carola,
es ging mir genauso. In der Kathedrale bin ich so oft gewesen. Ich habe so fassungslos vor dem Fernseher gesessen. 800 Jahre Kunst, Inspiration... Als die flêche versank.... schrecklich. Sie wird wieder erstehen.
Ich wünsche Dir eine wunderbare Osterzeit.

Terra said...

Thank you for posting all these photos of the magnificent cathedral. I think the pain is felt all around the world at the damage to Notre Dame. I visited it about 20 times and always felt humble at the beauty and the holiness there.

Elephant's Child said...

Heartbreaking. For the world.

Vagabonde said...

What a terrible tragedy for our country. You do show beautiful photos of Notre-Dame. I am planning a post on her as well but I don’t have many photos because when it is your hometown and go there to visit family you don’t take many pictures of the sights – I think I have more photos of New Orleans than Paris, my hometown. I have been watching French TV as much as possible and listening to French radio. I heard that many Catholics are pretty upset that safety measures (if it were a bad fire sensor) were not up-to-date. I did explain in another comment that in France all churches before 1907 belong to the state and not the church. They have to share tax payer money that is budgeted for churches, museums, castles, etc., and every year more is taken out of it, and people don’t like to pay taxes. The Paris budget has doubled in the last 15 years but church renovation budget has shrunk by 50%. Churches don’t charge for admission and less French people attend services – the last I read, a survey in 2017 showed only 1.8% attend weekly services. Because of the renovation cost, 44 historical French churches have been demolished since 2000 and more are on the chopping block. Of course N-D is our cultural icon and is loved by the world so pledges are coming, fortunately. Next time I go to Paris to visit family though I’ll go around taking pictures. I never thought N-D would not always be there, intact. We are all grieving.

Miss Val's Creations said...

A beautiful tribute Carola. What a tragedy this is. Notre Dame is such an amazing work of art inside and out.

africanaussie said...

I have been to France twice now and neither time did I make it to Paris, thinking oh there will be another time! On my last visit we started in Barcelona and then drove up into the South of France. La familia Sagrada in Barcelona was amazing, and seeing your photos I hope that Notre Dame is re-built back to its former glory.

krishna said...

It was really heartbreaking news. I've never been Paris, but I know about it since I was in school. Few years back I read a book about Paris. There I read an intricate description of the Cathedral. The cathedral has history of more than 800 years. The cathedral eye witnessed so many happenings. It is heartbreaking!

Barb said...

Lovely photos of an architectural treasure. How many lives have passed through it’s doors and been awed? A great loss.

Cheri said...

It is heartbreaking. I've never been there, but your photos are gorgeous and make me feel like I have been!

Jennifer Richardson said...

Thanks for sharing these beautiful photo memories; she is one grand and gracious lady and will, I imagine, teach us much in the days to come. Maybe how to come together and rise - wouldn't that be a legacy.

I so enjoyed this beautiful share, Carola; thank you:)


Jeanie said...

I had to write about Notre Dame too. You hit it perfectly when you wrote it could slice through your heart. It certainly did mine as well. And yes, it IS the heart of Paris. Your photos are dazzling. I especially love the one of the tryptich of stained glass windows. I don't think I noticed that on either of my visits. Your lighting, everything, perfection.

This building had such soul -- the soul of all who visited, whether they worshipped or not. It touched the entire world. I am glad people have been so generous. I can't donate a million euros or anything close, but I will join in with what I can.

Lowcarb team member said...

A most beautiful tribute Carola, your photographs are amazing.

All the best Jan