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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

STABAT MATER: Notre Dame Survived

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The Paris fire brigade knew exactly what they were doing. They knew they could not save the roof, and so they went inside and saved the building. And, voila! It worked. 

Incredibly, it begins to appear at least from preliminary reports, that all the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris is going to need is a lot of love and a new roof. 

The City Hall of Paris released photos of the interior today which show massive amounts of debris from an 800-year-old wooden-beamed roof that, sadly, is no more.

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Still, the medieval stone masons' genius saved Notre Dame some 800 years after she’d been built. The roaring flames quickly compromised the many-ton wooden structure of the attic, which collapsed onto the vaulted ceiling of the cathedral, threatening to fall through and down into nave below. And then, what of the walls themselves? But the great gothic buttresses and flying buttresses did their job. They held, until the fire on the roof had burned itself out.

And if the wind had shifted and fanned the flames into the twin bell towers, the huge bells (such as the 13-ton Emmanuel) would have come crashing down, bringing their fortress-like towers with them. 

Many are calling this miraculous, and indeed it well could be.  But perhaps we should also admit that the Paris fire brigade knew exactly what they were doing after all. They knew they could not save the roof, and so they went inside and saved the building. And voila!

The interior was saved, under the watchful eye of the pieta, now covered with ash but otherwise unharmed.

 “The fire was really limited to the roof, and because it’s conceived structurally as a separate system, it can burn without affecting what’s underneath it to a large extent,” said Kevin D. Murphy, professor of art history at Vanderbilt University

It's now official. This today from the Paris mayor's office: 

Even though the flames swept over the cathedral so intensely, much of the interior was saved Notre Dame's two medieval bell towers were still intact, and its stained-glass rose windows appeared mostly unscathed.

After a lot of speculation, rumors and fake tweets about a government-sponsored "reconstruction project" that would be in conformity with "diversity" and "multi-cultural" secularist standards (whatever that means), one wonders how much architectural leeway would even be possible, given the facts that the walls still stand, the buttresses held, the towers are secure and the interior was saved. 

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Five years and a billion dollars to restore Notre Dame? Sounds fairly reasonable, at this point. 

But given the horrors we all witnessed just two nights ago, is it really so absurd to suggest miraculous intervention?  Even the "experts on TV" said the fire could well spread across the Ile de la Cite and that there was really no hope of saving the Cathedral. Fox News' Shephard Smith said Notre Dame would 'burn to the ground." 

And, indeed, that is exactly how it looked. Even the mayor and a spokesman for the fire department had said they might not be able to save any of it. Notre Dame appeared to be burning to the ground. 

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And, yet, here she is--Notre Dame--wounded and weeping for her wayward children, but still standing like the stone metaphor for a mother waiting for her lost little ones to come home. And as long as she stands in silent, if charred, maternal reminder, there is hope for them and for us all. Chez soyez Reine, nous sommes a Vous!  

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Staba Mater dolorosa
iuxta Crucem lacrimosa,
dum pendebat Filius. 

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Read 5558 times Last modified on Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Michael J. Matt | Editor

Michael J. Matt has been an editor of The Remnant since 1990. Since 1994, he has been the newspaper's editor. A graduate of Christendom College, Michael Matt has written hundreds of articles on the state of the Church and the modern world. He is the host of The Remnant Underground and Remnant TV's The Remnant Forum. He's been U.S. Coordinator for Notre Dame de Chrétienté in Paris--the organization responsible for the Pentecost Pilgrimage to Chartres, France--since 2000.  Mr. Matt has led the U.S. contingent on the Pilgrimage to Chartres for the last 24 years. He is a lecturer for the Roman Forum's Summer Symposium in Gardone Riviera, Italy. He is the author of Christian Fables, Legends of Christmas and Gods of Wasteland (Fifty Years of Rock ‘n’ Roll) and regularly delivers addresses and conferences to Catholic groups about the Mass, home-schooling, and the culture question. Together with his wife, Carol Lynn and their seven children, Mr. Matt currently resides in St. Paul, Minnesota.