The full extent of the damage caused by the fire that broke out at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday can’t yet be known. The fire destroyed a majority of the original roof and Parisians who live nearby were evacuated during the day out of fear that the building might collapse entirely, but the towers were saved, no casualties have been reported so far and President Emmanuel Macron has promised to rebuild.
Cette cathédrale Notre-Dame, nous la rebâtirons. Tous ensemble. C’est une part de notre destin français. Je m’y engage : dès demain une souscription nationale sera lancée, et bien au-delà de nos frontières.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) April 15, 2019
The disaster may be the worst that the cathedral has experienced since the French Revolution, says Laurent Ferri, Curator of the pre-1800 Collections in the Rare Division and Manuscript Collections at Cornell University and a former curator at the French National Archives.
The devastation of one of the world’s most recognizable landmarks is always a shock, but the damage to Notre Dame has been particularly heartbreaking for the French and for people around the world, considering the building’s important role in the nation’s patrimony.
“It’s not just a building,” Ferri says, “but a place that is extremely important in terms of collective memory and identity.”
About one thousand workers labored to build the cathedral on the small island of Île de la Cité in the Seine River between 1163 and 1345, replacing an earlier church, as TIME explained in 1955:
On their island in the Seine (the Île de la Cité), Paris Christians first carried stones to the site of Notre–Dame about the 6th century. The church they built was razed by the Normans in the middle of the 9th century. A new basilica of Notre–Dame lasted the better part of another three centuries, but by 1140 it was too small, and worshipers fainted away in the crush. A year or so before, a bold, bright farm boy from the provinces was drawn to the intellectual beehive of the schools of Paris, and in the next two decades climbed the ecclesiastical ladder to become Bishop of Paris.
Maurice de Sully was a practical dreamer with a vision almost as striking as that of another French provincial, Joan of Arc. Though his chiefs of staff were two unknown master builders, the grand design of Notre–Dame as it …read more
Source:: Time – World