Two days ago, Notre Dame burned.
I saw it first as a notification from Groupme. Someone had said that Notre Dame was on fire, but I didn’t really comprehend what that meant. As more messages popped up, and then as I looked up a live stream online, it hit me.
The Notre Dame Cathedral had gone up in flames. Smoke billowed from its roof as firefighters fought against the fire, and to see the reactions of the French people from the video was heartbreaking. I think the moment I truly realized what I was seeing was when I saw a video clip of the spire falling.
Notre Dame is such an icon of Paris. While I don’t have any connection to French culture or history, I am a practicing Catholic, and Notre Dame is such an important symbol of our faith and our history. Notre Dame has been vitally important to Catholics all over the world for centuries, and now to see all of that go up in flames, I mourn for the loss suffered by people everywhere.
It’s a blow to France and to the Catholic Church, and I felt the reverberations even here in Norman, Oklahoma.
As time went on, I learned that the cathedral had been under renovation, and many pieces of art and many of the statues had already been removed for restoration. All of my friends were also discussing what art they were able to save, what artifacts they managed to get out before the flames could reach them. While it’s very probable that the fire was caused by the renovation, if there ever were a time for the cathedral to catch fire, I’m glad that it happened when certain pieces of art and artifacts were already removed. They were also able to stop the fire before it consumed the towers, and the rose window was spared, and I am glad that that much at least remains.
Macron says that Notre Dame will be rebuilt in 5 years. While I hope he is right, there is some amount of history that has been lost to the fire that we can never get back. Let us hope that the the new can be built to join seamlessly with the old, and that it may stand for years enough to testify to the glory of Notre Dame and everything it represents.