Memories of the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris
This reporter went to Paris with her daughter, Leanne, for a quick weekend trip in April 2005.
We went over to see the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and, of course, the French Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral with its stained glass windows, gargoyles and flying buttresses.
We also saw the Arc de Triomphe, walked along the Champs-Elysees and took a boat ride on the Seine.
When I heard there was a fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral on April 15 I didn’t believe one of the most historic sites in Paris could be no more. And, burning during Easter week, at that.
It was inconceivable to me a building that has existed more than 800 years could be destroyed.
Due to the renovations that were underway, many of the historic features and the copper statues had already been removed from the roof.
In an April 16 AP News article, Culture Minister Franck Riester stated, “The 3-meter-tall copper statues that looked over Paris from Notre Dame’s 96-meter peak already had been removed from the roof days ago and sent to southwestern France as part of a 6 million-euro ($6.8 million) renovation on the spire and its 250 tons of lead.”
According to the same article, “A plan to safeguard the masterpieces and relics was quickly put into action after the fire broke out. The Crown of Thorns, regarded as Notre Dame’s most sacred relic, was among the treasures quickly transported after the fire broke out,” Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said.
I also read that the rose window is still intact and the twin medieval bell towers were not destroyed.
“The three large stained-glass rose windows, among the most famous parts of the cathedral, were not destroyed, but might have been damaged by the heat and will be assessed by an expert,” Laurent Prades, heritage director of Notre Dame said in the article.
I am counting on the French to repair and replace the building to its former grandeur, using whatever methods available at this time, including using steel to replace wood or using drones.
Maybe five years from now, Notre Dame Cathedral will be restored to its former glory, and tourists and Parisians will again be able to see the precious church as it had been.
According to an April 16 The New York Times article titled “Notre-Dame Attic Known as ‘the Forest’ And It Burned Like One,” the last Mass of the day was underway the Monday of Holy Week when the first fire alarm sounded.
“It was 6:20 p.m., 25 minutes before the heavy wooden doors were scheduled to close to visitors for the day.
“Worshippers, sightseers and staff were ushered out, and someone went up to check the most vulnerable part of the medieval structure — the attic, a lattice of ancient wooden beams known as ‘the forest’ — but no fire was found, Rémy Heitz, the Paris prosecutor said on April 16. “At 6:43 p.m., another alarm rang. It was just 23 minutes later, but when they returned to the attic, it was clear they had a major problem: It was on fire.
“Soon much of the roof and the delicate spire rising high above it were also engulfed in flames, fanned by a strong breeze.”
Why wasn’t there a sprinkler system to protect this religious architectural treasure?
The same article states, “Much remains to be learned. But already it is emerging that Notre-Dame, irreplaceable as it is to France’s heritage, lacked the fundamental fire-prevention safeguards that are required in more modern structures and have been grafted onto other ancient cathedrals elsewhere in Europe.
“Some of those elements, like firewalls or a sprinkler system, were absent by choice — so as not to alter the landmark’s design or to introduce electrical wiring deemed a greater risk amid the timbers that supported Notre-Dame’s ornate lead roof.”