An icon of history burns

My Nikkel's worth column

It was rather shocking to watch the news channel on Monday, and see “Our Lady of Paris” burn.
Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the most iconic historic sites in Paris, and has been in the centre of that great French city for 850 years, on an island in the Seine River.
The situation is not really comparable to the day the twin towers of the World Trade Center went down in New York City, as the fire of Notre Dame was not a terrorist act, as far as we know at the time of this writing.
But there was a similar feeling of shock that such a major landmark, a classic example of Gothic architecture and a centre of worship for Paris, was being damaged by a huge fire, and people around the world were watching the flames live.
The video they kept replaying (not unlike the day the towers fell) was the collapse of the big spire as it fell inside the burning church. From some reports I heard, the fire may even have originated in the spire.
There is so much history around this building, as Notre Dame is considered the “heart” of Paris, and is an integral part of the art and literature of France (such as Victor Hugo’s classic, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”), in addition to its place as the centre of worship for French Catholic believers.
One cannot do justice to the importance of the cathedral in such a short space, but suffice it to say, people will want to see a restoration of Notre Dame’s glory if it is at all possible. It will be hugely expensive, as the cathedral was already in the process of major renovations when this fire began.
Even in a Disney animated movie about Victor Hugo’s story (which they Disney-fied, and didn’t stay true to the novel), there is an artistic respect for Notre Dame that is seen in the amazing art-work of the film. They had their artists go to Notre Dame and do many drawings, sketchings and paintings, and this formed the basis of telling the story.
I was informed by my gamer son that some of the work done by a video game based in part in Notre Dame will be used for the restoration because it was so well-detailed of the interior. Since I’m not in the gaming world, I can’t speak to whether this claim is really true, but it gives you the idea of how deeply impactful the cathedral is to art and culture around the world, not just in Paris or France. This one site alone had 13 million visitors a year, which is mind-boggling, but it shows how truly important the cathedral is to the culture of the world. Will Notre Dame be restored, or was too badly damaged? One can only hope she can survive this, after making it through 850 years of history.

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