In April, while I was traveling to the American south west, I learned about the tragic fire that destroyed the wooden spire and 700+ year old roof of Notre Dame in Paris. I certainly won’t get into the social implications of the fire; the costs to rebuild and the controversy that surrounds all the donations coming forth, but I wanted to share my own experiences with this amazing place and some of my favorite personal pictures.
I first visited Notre Dame in 2013 with my family as a part of a month-long European Adventure. We went in March during the off season and enjoy fewer lines and more exploring! My kids were 6 (almost 7) and 10. They did great! We spent 4 nights in Paris and saw all the must-see sights! As soon as we arrived (even after traveling overnight), we unloaded our luggage and headed to Notre Dame! It was right around the corner from where we were staying in the Latin Quarter and we loved it!
I can really appreciate this site on many levels – as a Christian, I appreciate the devotion of the followers who, for years, poured their lives into building this masterpiece as an outward expression of their faith. I appreciate the significance of this holy place to Catholics all around the world and marvel in its beauty and divine mission.
As a historian, I appreciate the place this building holds in history – the advancements in architecture and science it took to build; the priceless artifacts that are preserved in this building; the craftsmanship that went in to the carvings, the stained glass and masonry and how this place has witnessed so very much over time. If those walls could talk!
As a humanitarian, I appreciate the grief and joy this place has housed; the turning point for so many on their journey of faith and life and the hard times that have brought people to its huge doors. I image how many people brought their sorrows to the alter – how many marriages and deaths were observed over the past 700+ years and the unfathomable amounts of history that took place within these walls built by men.
This past January, my daughter and I had the joy of seeing this beautiful site once more. We saw the outside of the cathedral three or four times and went inside once. We visited in the snow and made a small snowman in the park in front of the cathedral. We visited on our final day and fed the pigeons there. We have made many memories of this place and I feel eternally blessed and thankful that I have had an opportunity to visit a place that embodies history and humanity. My hope is that, however it is arranged, this place is restored and reopened expeditiously for countless people that journey to Paris just to see this holy place. I hope you get to see it, too!