By Rain Ji ’19
On April 15, 2019, a major fire erupted at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. The fire began to spread quickly from the rear of the roof, and quickly affected the spire. The spire collapsed as a result of the fire, and almost the entire roof was damaged. Although the exterior of the cathedral suffered greatly, the interior of it was kept mostly intact.
Fortunately, Notre Dame’s two famous medieval bell towers were not damaged, and the world-renowned stained glass rose windows were saved. The Twelve Apostles and four New Testament evangelists statues also escaped the catastrophe because they happened to be in a workshop getting repaired.
Local authorities are still in the process of investigating the reason of the fire, but they have ruled out the possibility of terrorists or arsonists. As of now, the over 50 authorities involved with the fire believe that it was an accident.
Notre Dame Cathedral continues to be an important symbol to Catholicism. With a declining number of practicing Catholics in France, some are concerned that the significance of the building has diminished. But that could not be further from the truth. Considering the long history of Notre Dame and its prominent role in French society, the cathedral’s significance goes way beyond religion.
The Notre Dame Cathedral has a long history dating back to 1163, when it was first constructed. The majority of the Cathedral was finished in 1272, and it was fully completed by 1345. Notre Dame is arguably the most iconic landmark in Paris, and is known not only for its unique and lavish style but also for the organs and bells in the structure. The Notre Dame Cathedral was also made famous by Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which was set in the Notre Dame Cathedral and brought attention to its gothic architecture.
The French government has already initiated a fundraising campaign for the rebuilding of Notre Dame Cathedral as promised by French President Emmanuel Macron. Some of the wealthiest French families have pledged to donate over 500 million dollars to the cause.
However, the rebuilding is not only about physically rebuilding the structure of Notre Dame. In recent years, French society has been increasingly divided between religions and ethnicities, and figuring out how to reconcile those differences and unite in the face of tragedy will be an important step forward.