Notre Dame, the centre of Paris, is steeped in cultural and political significance. It’s not only a religious place but also at the heart of world history. Standing high for more than 800 years, it has survived world wars and even the French revolution. But on Monday evening, Our Lady of Paris suffered through a fire, which at one point looked as if it would finally break her. But break she did not.
As a place which not only belongs to the people of Paris and France, but also to the world, you could feel the instant communal grief and shock as the news spread globally. We thank everyone for their messages of concern, and for sharing in the sorrow we felt as we witnessed the fire live on the news raging through the roof of the cathedral and inevitably toppling the iconic spire.
For us, Notre Dame has been a very special place. In the past 10 months, we’ve been lucky enough to visit it three times; the last visit being just two weeks ago when my parents were in Paris. It is also the first cathedral we visited in Paris with our little man. He loved it so much that during the last visit he asked us to sit inside for a while after lighting one of the tealights – a must-do activity for Sahil whenever he visits a place of worship.
After my French class today, I decided to take a detour and pay my respects to the historic monument and it seemed many others in Paris had the same idea. I was surprised to see that there were still so many people on the the streets across the river with profound sadness in their eyes as they looked out to the cathedral.
It was heartening to see that the structure of Notre Dame was still intact, thanks to the Pompiers of Paris. It’s amazing to see how everyone has come together in solidarity, whether it be sitting in silence, singing hymns or creating a human chain to save the most famous artwork and relics from inside of the cathedral.
There is certainly hope that it will be rebuilt. President Emmanuel Macron has already declared that Notre Dame will be rebuilt within five years, stating, “It’s part of the fate, the destiny of France, and our common project over the coming years. And I am committed to it“. I also admired the words of former US President Barack Obama who tweeted, “It’s in our nature to mourn when we see history lost – but it’s also in our nature to rebuild for tomorrow, as strong as we can“.
In less than 24 hours, over 600 million Euros have already been donated for the restoration of Notre Dame. While we don’t have a spare million Euros just lying around like some of the business tycoons and luxury brands, we felt in our small way we too should contribute to the rebuild of a monument that is part of so many of our memories here in Paris.
If you too would like to donate, you can do so via Friends of Notre Dame de Paris.