I cannot begin to express the anxiety and heartbreak we are feeling over the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Tears have been shed. I feel a way that I haven’t felt since 9/11.
Notre Dame is THE iconic structure of Paris. When the Eiffel Tower was completed, Notre Dame had already been standing for over half a millennium. It is central to the city’s identity.
The only “good” news is that there was no loss of life (at least none known so far) and that this tragedy is not the result of an act of terrorism or war. It was an accident with horrible results.
But any other good news will be hard to come by. Medieval builders didn’t have access to strong fire-resistant building materials. In other words, there is a lot of old, large wood in that building that will joyfully burn until it is consumed. As I type, the roof is gone, and the stained glass is probably melted by now.
When we were in Europe in 2001, we saw many old churches and cathedrals that were burned by Henry VIII or bombed in the second world war, and all that remains are the stone walls and steeples. My worst fear is that this is what will be left of Notre Dame, and so far I haven’t seen any news to deny that.