The Cathedral of Our Lady of Paris—symbol of Europe, masterpiece of art, triumph of architecture—is dying.
I feel I must write something, but the words do not come easily now.
What began as a small fire has destroyed perhaps the most famous church in the world. The cathedral that has for over 800 years survived countless wars, disasters, vandals, and others has been brought down at the beginning of Holy Week, the most holy week of the year for all Christians.
I am writing this through tears, tears that began the moment I saw her burning on a TV at the gym. Tears that continued through my workout, tears that followed me home, and tears that will stay with me during this week of Our Lord’s Passion.
The glory of Notre Dame, not just for Catholics, or Europe, or the West, but for all lovers of art, history, and culture, is lost forever. Something that took 200 years to build has been destroyed in a matter of hours. The world will never be the same.
But from her destruction, just as from Our Lord’s Crucifixion, shall come—must come—hope. France, the Catholic Church, and the rest of the world will recover from this horror. But it will not be easy. Countless priceless pieces of history—including a piece of Christ’s Crown of Thorns—are in danger of being lost forever, not to mention the marvelous architecture that still is not fully understood by us moderns.
It is also a reminder that for all of her beauty, the cathedral is a work of man. It is a magnificent celebration of the glory of God, but it is still only temporal. Worldly beauty, even the most sublime, is temporary. That which is stands for—the Father’s creation, the Son’s sacrifice, and the Holy Spirit’s life-giving work—is permanent. We must place our faith, hope, and love in that, and not in outward expressions of it.
Notre Dame is burning, and my heart is broken.