Tuesday 16 April 2019

A Matter Of Faith

The disaster in Paris of the scale of damage to the Cathedral is the major story of the present. Around thirty years ago on a brief visit to Paris strictly for basic tourism we were able to go up a tower there and see Paris around us and beyond that the fields of France in a nation where Paris was supreme and so were its institutions. It is not just another Cathedral or big church it is at the heart of France.

In December of 2018 the new Duchess of Sussex said that St. George's Chapel at Windsor needed air fresheners because of its age and the condition of the air. Recently our Westminster Abbey made the press in discussions on the cost of its fire prevention systems. In 1984 we had the York Minster fire and from where I lived could see the smoke trails.

On Sunday 24 March 2013 I had a post titled "The Bells, The Bells" about the Cathedral of Notre Dame and it's new bells asking the question of who and what were they for. The information at present is that the fire began in the extensive renovation works under way. 200 trees is a lot of timber and when fire caught the whole burned.

The French government has been quick to promise a rebuild and the offers to contribute are many and various among the institutions of France and its commercial and financial sectors. But the old Cathedral has gone, like so many ancient building the rebuild will be a new one, 21st Century, attempting to retain a major link to the past.

The Catholic faith of France has long been in retreat and in the last two centuries has declined into a number of small congregations in a Republic that did not include religion as an essential element of life. The Cathedral was built for the old faith and just as the new building will not be the old so the old faith is lost.

France now can never be the France of the past in its economy, social structures and belief systems. Notre Dame has gone and so has the France of the past.

If it needed a symbol of the end of France the loss of the Cathedral of Notre Dame would be the one to mark its end.


  1. "France now can never be the France of the past..."

    Yes - that's what this disaster brings home.

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