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The Resurrection of Notre Dame Cathedral Begins

The Resurrection of Notre Dame Cathedral Begins

Spiritually, perhaps the lesson from the burning of Notre Dame relates to this Holy Week: We can celebrate a resurrection after a dreadful loss.

As a practicing Catholic who visited the famous Notre Dame Cathedral in 2015, watching the news reports covering the conflagration, the destruction of its roof, and the collapse of its iconic spire was gut-wrenching.

Yesterday, my colleague Mary Chastain did an exceptional job covering the response of the emergency crews, French citizens, and those who were glued to social media as they followed events.

Today, a look at the inside of Notre Dame shows that in addition to the important religious pieces such as the Crown of Thorns saved yesterday, most structural elements have miraculously survived the blaze.

Some will call it a miracle. According to Notre Dame’s heritage director, only one piece of architecture inside the sacred building has been damaged.

Laurent Prades told The Associated Press that the high altar, which was installed in 1989, was hit and harmed by the cathedral’s spire when it came crashing down in the flames. “We have been able to salvage all the rest,” said Prades, who witnessed the recovery first hand overnight.

“All the 18th-century steles, the pietas, frescoes, chapels and the big organ are fine,” he said. Among the most famous elements inside the cathedral, Prades added that the three large stained-glass rose windows have not been destroyed, though they may have been damaged by the heat and will be assessed by an expert.

French billionaires and corporations are already directing millions to the reconstruction of the Cathedral.

Donations to rebuild Notre Dame have exceeded 650 million euros as France’s richest man pledged 200 million euros (£170m) towards the restoration after Monday night’s inferno.

Bernard Arnault of luxury goods group LVMH doubled the 100 million euros pledged by Hollywood actress Salma Hayek’s husband Francois-Henri Pinault.

Other heavyweight donors include the Bettencourt family – owners of cosmetics giant L’Oreal – who have given 200 million euros and the French oil giant Total who donated 100 million on Tuesday.

Apple chief Tim Cook has also promised to donate. Catholic churches around the world are coming together to help the repair efforts; for example, I am organizing a donation for our Parish.

Czech President Milos Zeman is the expertise and assistance of experienced Czech specialists to help restore Notre Dame.

In a letter to his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, Zeman said Tuesday that the Czech Republic is, like France, a country with many Gothic and medieval historic buildings and palaces. Zeman said that “the fire of Notre Dame affects us all.”

Zeman offered teams of top restoration experts that work at Prague Castle, the historic seat of Czech presidency, which includes St. Vitus Cathedral, a Gothic architectural masterpiece.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said his country is also ready to send France financial assistance.

Meanwhile, a 32-year old construction boss is at the center of the fire probe. He had boasted about his firm’s ability to protect historic sites when his company won millions in the contract to repair the cathedral’s spire.

Julien Le Bras, 32, declared last year: ‘Our first thought is to protect the values of historical buildings, it’s in our DNA.’

His firm, Le Bras Freres, a small company known as the ‘Cathedral Restorers’, had won the £5million (€5.8m, $6.5m) contract to renovate the spire of the Paris landmark.

Today craftsmen from the company were being questioned by investigators after the spire came crashing down in Monday’s blaze, which caused such extensive damage that experts believe it could take decades to repair.

Investigators believe the devastating blaze started in the roof cavity below the spire where the work, which included the use of electric tools, was being carried out.

As a safety professional, I would offer the most valuable lessons in the wake of this tragedy relates to fire prevention and suppression. Reconstruction can include innovative sprinkler systems, safer electrical equipment, and fire-resistant materials.

Spiritually, perhaps the lesson from the burning of Notre Dame relates to this Holy Week: We can celebrate a resurrection after a dreadful loss.

I was a guest on Canto Talk today, where I was joined by Rosine Ghawji, conservative activist and founder of Working Mothers for Donald Trump, a French woman who had been at the cathedral this past November.

One last image: Of my son and I, as we stand in front of Notre Dame in 2015. It is a moment I will treasure forever.


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Terence G. Gain | April 17, 2019 at 7:40 am

I see nothing to celebrate. Nor do I see the point of rebuilding a beautiful cathedral which will be largely empty. Sell the cathedral to the Muslims for a mosque and give the money to the poor.

The authorities have already ruled out arson even before the cause of the fire has been investigated. It’s amazing that we are able to watch a conquest in real time.

Bitterlyclinging | April 17, 2019 at 7:53 am

This wooden structured Diocesan cathedral burned to the ground in the middle of a 1960’s blizzard. They rebuilt it using mostly non flammable materials. Linger on it and get a tour.

I understand your cynicism and rightly question how they can rule it an accident so quickly (when there’s not been a thorough investigation- we know that would take weeks), I am hoping and praying for a true rebirth and revival. May the eyes of France and all of Europe be opened.

That was in response to Terence.

Subotai Bahadur | April 17, 2019 at 4:53 pm

To be honest, despite Macron’s claiming it would be rebuilt inside 5 years, engineers are saying it will take 2-5 years to just accurately survey the damage. It was built with construction techniques that were lost, and fire not only burned the huge wooden beams [which may well not be replaceable due to them coming from old growth forests that no longer exist, plus the time to dry and cure them]; stone itself reacts differently to exposure to the heat and much of it will have to be tested to be seen if it can be re-used or must be replaced. The workers there now will not work with the dedication and craftsmanship of the original builders [30 hour work week in France, MAXIMUM]. Hell, many of them will be Muslim and actively sabotaging it?

It took centuries to build the original. I figure that if uninterrupted, if the EU/ENA-arch bureaucracy does not try to interfere and/or steal the contributions for rebuilding; it will take at least 5 years to survey and several decades even using modern methods to rebuild. And there is the matter that architects and bureaucrats are already talking about it needing to be redesigned so as not to be “blatantly and offensively Christian”. At best that is going to slow things down, if not stop them.

Look at a time frame of say 50 years. Look at Europe, the EU, France, and the rest of the world. Will France be Christian at all at the end of that time? Will Europe not have been devastated by a largely self-inflicted war [Please, whichever Deity is turning the crank this week, let us leave it to them to finish it off. We’ve rescued them 3 times in a century to no good end.]? What are the odds that France will be part of the European Caliphate?

In a country under constant religious terrorist attack that refuses to consider and investigate even the possibility that this was another religious terrorist attack; it is not pessimism, but realism to look at the questions I asked.

Subotai Bahadur

    snopercod in reply to Subotai Bahadur. | April 17, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    After reading Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth (and watching the movie), I am always uncomfortable with the realization that thousands of people (and their children and grandchildren) spent their entire lives creating that structure, but for what? Yes, Notre Dame is beautiful, but was it worth the entire lives of thousands of people and the untold donations of the poor and devout? This really begs the ultimate question: “What is the purpose of life?” When I was in the Army, we spent a lot time digging holes and them filling them back up again. This is different, though, because something beautiful remains. I would like to think that on their death beds, the stone masons and carpenters could point to Notre Dame and say, “I helped build that.”

Re: the oak beams.

I read somewhere yesterday that when the oak beams were replaced 160 years ago, a stand of oaks was planted at Versailles for the eventual need of old growth oaks for the next replacement.

Terence G. Gain | April 18, 2019 at 12:46 pm

For those of you who considered my initial comment too dystopian, consider this.

Macron is promising to rebuild Notre Dame ” in a way more in keeping with our modern diverse values.”.

So the question of the day is how many prayer rooms will there be in the rebuilt Cathedral?