NOTRE DAME Cathedral in PARIS...
The violent fire that started Monday night, April 15, 2019 ravaged the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Though the two bell towers were saved, two-thirds of the roof were destroyed. The spire collapsed. The precious relics including Jesus' Crown of Thorns and the tunic of Saint Louis were saved, as well as the greatest Treasure of all, the Most Blessed Sacrament.
On April 19, 2019, this inspiring editorial appeared on the front page of LE FIGARO, a French daily newspeper.
April 19, 2019 Good Friday
Since the fire in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, the emotion is universal. The sight of this wonder of the world lying on the edge of the Seine River after a night of combat against the fire grips the heart. The debate for its restoration is launched. The French people, political leaders, cultural and artistic authorities are already impassioned. It generates an exceptional generosity. Everyone suddenly remembers that this patrimony of grandeur and beauty is our common heritage.
But for Catholics, the Cathedral of Paris is not only an architectural masterpiece of the Middle Ages. It is only a place where priceless treasures are ordinarily preserved - the foremost of which is the Crown of Thorns worn by Christ on the first Good Friday.
A cathedral is only a repository. A dazzling repository, but simply a repository, protecting a treasure much more beautiful, much more precious: in the tabernacle (happily rescued from Notre Dame) is the essence of their faith, Jesus Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament.
It is He, it is His death and His Resurrection that are being celebrated this week. The services are held around the whole world, they take place in admirable buildings or in churches made of plaster and sheet metal. Yet the same Mystery is present, with the same intensity, the same value: "Every prayer, even that of a little shepherd, is the prayer of the human race," as Bernanos said.
Of course, since Monday, since the distressing spectacle of a cathedral prey to fire, the emotion felt increases the fervor of the faithful. They know that, fundamentally, the Church is not composed of arches and stained glass, but of "living stones"; the expression is used by St. Peter in an epistle to signify that it is built first upon their faith, their charity, their hope. And it is quite another project to revive these virtues among their contemporaries.
They are hoping that the flames of an April night, the grief that has fallen upon the country, will be replaced on Sunday by the light and the joy of Easter.
Editorial in LE FIGARO by Étienne de Montety. Used with permission.
From an eyewitness...
I burst into tears as I stood across the Seine River, my eyes fixed on the mortal flames, my vision blurred and watery because of the smoke…I pressed my rosary to my heart. The flames were so violent. I saw the drama, the spire collapsing before my eyes. The people around me were crying and screaming horribly.
At midnight I went back home with a heavy heart. It was so terrifying to see….