July 22, 2019
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    Huge fire engulfs Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris Featured

    April 16, 2019

    Iconic Notre-Dame de Paris is ablaze during Holy Week. The cathedral is a religious and architectural world treasure. Its Christian relics are said to include part of Jesus Christ’s Crown of Thorns from the Crucifixion. Between 30,000 to 50,000 people visit daily. But fire (the destructive force that twice spared the USA’s White House and destroyed Italy’s Basilica of Saint Paul Outside The Walls) doesn’t discriminate based on historical relevance.

    Everyone who visits Notre Dame is awe-struck by its beauty. Today, the same rings true but only because its majestic skyline spire, remarkable flying trusses, ribbed vaults, soaring bell towers and mesmerizing rose windows are in jeopardy from the flames—searing sadness into the world’s collective psyche.That includes Pope Francis, Catholics worldwide, French President Emmanuel Macron, Parisians, cardinals, bishops, nuns, architects, artists, Europeans, Americans—the entire globe which watches in shock, shaken to their foundation. It’s no overstatement to suggest Notre-Dame represents civilization itself.

     Notre-Dame Cathedral attracts 30,000 to 50,000 visitors per day. “It’s a cathedral of all French citizens and even those who haven’t visited,” said French president Emmanuel Macron. “It is our common history, and it is burning. Over 800 years ago, we were able to erect this cathedral and improve it, so I tell you tonight, we will rebuild this cathedral. We will call on the greatest talent, and we will rebuild Notre-Dame. It is what the French expect of us. It is what history deserves. It is our destiny.”

     “Our Lady of Paris” will never be the same. Nor will the world, post- April 15, 2019. This is supposed to be tax day, instead it’s merely taxing.(As this is written, it’s in the present tense. By the end, it could be charred in past tense embers. That’s the unfortunate truth as the fire still rages.)

    Notre-Dame is perhaps the world’s finest example of French Gothic architecture. Construction on the cathedral began in medieval times—1160 in the Romanesque style, eventually morphing into its final Gothic style. The west façade towers (where bells toll) were added in the 13th century (between 1220-1250). Flying buttresses were added in the 14th century.Construction of Notre-Dame spanned 300 years.
    (Halfway through this story, it appears belfry is saved as Parisians applaud firefighters.)“Notre dame represents what’s most noble, what’s most uplifting,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, where people are gathering in support of Paris.
    Flames and smoke rise from Notre-Dame Cathedral as it burns in Paris on April 15, 2019.
    Flames and smoke rise from Notre-Dame
    It took 300 years to build Notre-Dame and mere hours to lose the roof, statues, spire, nave, apse, transept, ambulatory, and choir as rampaging flames are fueled by all that made the cathedral special—wooden joists, artistic treasures, wood sculptures, lead paintings, gargoyles, stained glass, etc.

    "As it happens I was in Paris yesterday afternoon sketching the Cathedral,” said World Trade Center master architect Daniel Libeskind. “I am deeply saddened by the news of the fire. The Cathedral of Norte Dame is a paragon of beauty. Its loss cannot be calculated as it is the soul of western architecture. I hope its spirit can be resurrected.”This historic cathedral is/was virtually the same one witnessed by Napoleon Bonaparte, King Louis IX, Saint Bonaventure, and Pope Alexander III, who witnessed the laying of the cornerstone in 1163.

    A gargoyle on the facade of Notre-Dame Cathedral. It cannot be lost that Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter approach this weekend. Notre-Dame was a house of worship that just celebrated Palm Sunday (Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem). The cathedral was a stage for masses, coronations (Henry VI and Napoleon) and state funerals. Here, Napoleon returned the cathedral to the Catholic Church (1801) and anointed himself emperor by taking the crown from Pope Pius VII (1804).

    Notre-Dame survived the French Revolution, World War I, World War II, sacrilegious cults, pollution, complacency, budget constraints and protests. The cathedral was plundered during the revolution, including the beheading of statues in the Gallery of Kings.

    Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida (as Esmeralda) and American actor Anthony Quinn (as Quasimodo) in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," by French director Jean Delannoy. (Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
    Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida (as Esmeralda) and American actor Anthony Quinn (as Quasimodo) in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," by French director Jean Delannoy. (Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images) GETTY
    In the 19th century it fell into ruin, until Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame) inspired its renovation by French architects Jean-Baptiste-Antoine and Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, who created the modern 295-foot-high spire that collapsed today. That spire (or the Treasury Museum) may have contained ancient relics, including a fragment of the Crown of Thorns. Prior to the blaze, 16 religious statues were removed from the peak (for the first time in a century) to be cleaned.

    During World War II, the cathedral was damaged by stray bullets—albeit not razed as Hitler ordered all of Paris burned (fortunately, his general disobeyed). The Rockefeller family helped in the refurbish Notre-Dame post-wa

    In 1944, France celebrated liberation from the Germans as Charles de Gaulle marched on horseback all the way to Notre-Dame for a Te Deum religious service. In 1963 the cathedral commemorated its 800th anniversary. Notre-Dame was under a $6.8 million renovation, wrapped in scaffolding that lasted longer than the the church roof—in this case beauty went first. Officials will investigate whether renovation was a factor in the blaze.

    “This great Gothic cathedral, devastated during the French Revolution but restored to life in the 19th century, embodied medieval France’s significant leap upward, toward light and ineffable space, while serving as a vessel for their religious rites and passages,” says American Institute of Architects executive vice president/CEO Robert Ivy (FAIA).

    Paris bishops celebrating Easter wednesday in Notre Dame cathedral, Paris (Photo by: Godong/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
    Paris bishops celebrating Easter wednesday in Notre Dame cathedral, Paris (Photo by: Godong/Universal Images Group via Getty Images) GETTY
    “We share the sorrow of the French people as they come to terms with this loss and stand with them as they recover and look to rebuild one of the world’s architectural treasures. It can and must be rebuilt for future generations, reflecting their hopes and needs.”Basilica of St. Pauls Outside The Wall in Rome burnt down in 1823 and was rebuilt by the entire world. Based on Macron’s statement, Notre-Dame will be as well. Tonight and this weekend, millions will pray for it.

    Meanwhile, French billionaire François-Henri Pinault said Monday night he and his family will donate 100 million euros to help reconstruct the Notre Dame Cathedral, hours after a catastrophic fire tore through the historic structure, collapsing its spire and causing significant damage."My father [François Pinault] and I have decided to release as of now from the funds of Artemis a sum of 100 million euros to participate in the effort that will be necessary for the complete reconstruction of Notre Dame," Pinault wrote in a statement.François-Henri Pinault is the chair and CEO of the international luxury group Kering, which includes Gucci and Saint Laurent, and president of the French holding company Groupe Artémis, which owns the fine arts auction house Christie's.

    French President Emmanuel Macron said late Monday that he planned to launch a national fundraising campaign to rebuild the centuries-old cathedral."We will rebuild," Macron told reporters. "We will rebuild Notre Dame because this is what the French expect, because this is what our history deserves, because it is our destiny."In its more than 800-year history, Notre Dame has undergone extensive and costly restorations to repair and restore one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture.

    When the fire broke out, the spire was being restored as part of a multimillion-dollar renovation to repair water damage to the wooden structure.In recent years, cathedral officials have sought private funding to buttress the funds the French state dedicates to its upkeep through the Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris foundation.


    Last modified on Tuesday, 16 April 2019 12:39

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