I can’t put into words how sad I am that Notre Dame Cathedral is burning. It’s my favorite building not just in Paris but in all of the places I’ve traveled to. At NRO, Jonah Goldberg, David French, and Marlo Safi do a good job expressing what the Cathedral means and why the fire is so tragic.
I feel particularly bad for those who never visited Notre Dame. Those of us who did have our memories: My first, breathtaking viewing as part of a breathless tour of the city in 1966. My second visit in 1982 when I was nearly hypnotized by the rose window.
My younger daughter’s first viewing at the age of six when she proclaimed that she wanted to live “here,” meaning inside the Cathedral. Our visit to the Cathedral on the same daughter’s 20th birthday when she was studying in Paris and declared that what she wanted to do for her birthday was visit Notre Dame.
You certainly don’t have to be a Catholic, or even a Christian, to feel the magnitude of the loss. I’m not; neither is Goldberg. Surely, it’s even worse for serious Catholics like NRO’s Alexandra De Sanctis, though. She expresses her sorrow here.
The Cathedral will be rebuilt, as Goldberg says, but full reconstruction will take years, I assume. Even afterwards, Notre Dane won’t be the same. According to this report, the stained glass windows somehow do not seem to have been damaged. I hope that’s true because I doubt they can faithfully be recreated.
It’s not that difficult to imagine Paris without the Eiffel Tower, but I have a hard time picturing it without Notre Dame Cathedral. I’m not sure I want to return to that Paris, nor am I sure Paris will again have Notre Dame in my lifetime.
UPDATE: The damage to the Cathedral, though very substantial, is not as severe as many (including me) initially feared. John has the details here.