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Post Massive Fire at Notre Dame Cathedral
Created by John Eipper on 04/16/19 3:52 AM

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Massive Fire at Notre Dame Cathedral (Enrique Torner, USA, 04/16/19 3:52 am)

I want to express my deepest sorrow and concern for my friend David Pike. My heart broke the moment I heard that Notre Dame was on fire. At this time, from what I have been able to gather from online sources, it seems the fire has been extinguished, and that nobody was killed, but some firefighters were injured.  Fortunately it happened after the cathedral was closed, because if it had happened while it was open, with as many visitors as it must have every day, who knows how many people would have been hurt or killed. Seeing the spire fall down sent a lightning flashback to my mind: when I saw the first tower fall down on 9/11. My heart sank!

I never had the chance to visit Paris, though I wish I had. However, my art teacher from the Catholic school I attended in Barcelona when I was a kid was an excellent educator, and had traveled extensively all over, gathering an amazing collection of art slides that he used to teach us about all kinds of monuments. He had a particular love for Romanesque and Gothic architecture, and I still remember his lessons with certain nostalgia. He was the first person who introduced me to Notre Dame Cathedral, to the beauty of his rose window, the magnificence of his nave, and the fascinating history depicted all over its building. The cathedral is known for holding three relics of Christ: the crown of thorns, a piece of the Vera Cruz ("true cross" of Christ), and a nail that was used in His Passion. I am relieved to read that they were saved from destruction.

I would like to hear from our friend David: how he is doing, his take on how Parisians are feeling at this moment, the status of the cathedral (what was saved, what was destroyed in more details, the plans for reconstruction, the initial impressions on the cause of the fire, and anything else he might care to comment on), and the government's and people's reactions in general.

JE comments:  Only the Eiffel Tower is more recognized as the "soul" of Paris, and Notre Dame is centuries older.  President Macron has pledged to rebuild, and big-pocket donors are pledging their cash.  The question on everyone's mind:  what was the cause of this tragedy?  I understand that terrorism and arson have both been ruled out.

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  • Notre Dame Cathedral Fire (John Heelan, UK 04/16/19 10:17 AM)
    I have tried to explain to some of my countrymen the symbolic importance of Notre Dame to the French people by asking, "How would you feel today if the Houses of Parliament had suffered a similar fate?"

    My condolences are extended to all my French friends, business associates and WAISers. Remember the "Je suis Charlie" of a few year ago? Well today it is "Je suis français."

    JE comments: France must be absolutely demoralized.  Of course, we parochial Americans thought the fire had devastated a famous college in South Bend, Indiana.  I understand the U of Notre Dame has tweeted a clarification.

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    • The Two Notre Dames (Edward Jajko, USA 04/17/19 3:39 AM)

      Oh, please, John, in this age of instant TV/radio/Internet and other communications, people would have to have been incredibly stupid to think that it was the University of Notre Dame University that was burning. (See John E's comments on John Heelan's post of April 16h.)

      Come on.

      There is probably one person who is laughing his head off in his corner of Hell: Brennt Paris?

      But come on, John, University of ND? Seriously?

      JE comments:  Sorry to insult my compatriots, but Notre Dame (South Bend) did make a point to send out a tweet.  The public comments (see below) mention other classic moments of American "geographical exceptionalism"--Chechnya/Czechia, the two Georgias, etc.  Since the arrival of Melania Trump, we've also been forced to come to terms with Slovenia and Slovakia.


      Brennt Paris?  When faced with the brutal images of the fire, it's hard not to think of Hitler's "dream."

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  • Attacks on Churches in France (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 04/16/19 1:59 PM)
    The comment "terrorism and arson have been both ruled out" in the Notre Dame fire may be correct, but consider:

    Churches at Fointenaibleau and at Veneuse-les-Sables burned on 11 January 2016. Four churches were vandalized on 28 January-10 February 2018 at Fijon, Houilles (for the third time), Lavour and Nimes. On 12 July 2018 a church at Calais was set on fire. The Saint-Sulpice church in Paris was set on fire on 17 March 2019. In 2017 a total of 878 Catholic and Protestant churches were attacked.

    In Spain the various leftist administrations instead are trying to eliminate crosses and churches by decree, while in Italy in the small town of Pieve di Cento (Bologna) has decided to hang cloths to hide the Crucifixes in the main Chapel not to offend "non-Christians."

    Finally Trump suggested putting out the Notre Dame fire using the Canadair water-bombers.  Please explain to the poor guy what an 800-year-old cathedral is.

    JE comments:  French authorities have once again ruled out any "voluntary" cause of the fire, but add that the investigation will take a very long time.  My based-on-nothing guess:  Perhaps some inflammable solvents/adhesives/paints from the restoration process were accidentally ignited?

    Still, there's no doubt that a lot of "profanation" of religious buildings is going on in France.

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    • Notre Dame Inferno: How Can We Rule Out Foul Play? (Timothy Ashby, Spain 04/17/19 3:10 AM)
      I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but there seems to be more to the Notre Dame inferno than is being reported by the media (and promulgated by the French government).

      My sources in the intelligence community tell me that the fire is being treated as "suspicious" and it is impossible to rule out arson as the cause (as the French authorities proclaimed within hours of the blaze and when the embers were still glowing) without a lengthy investigation. The only reason that terrorism was almost immediately ruled out was because no organisation took credit for the fire. The fact that the fire occurred at the beginning of Holy Week adds to the suspicion.

      As Eugenio Battaglia reported, there have indeed been a series of attacks on churches in France, and Notre Dame was on a list of Western Cultural Heritage sites targeted by ISIS. Other churches on the list included La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and the Frauenkirche in Dresden. Yesterday in London I noticed that armed police were far more in evidence around Westminster Abbey than a week ago.

      JE comments:  There's a logic here:  if you don't know what did cause the conflagration (lengthy investigation required), how can you be so quick to rule out arson?

      A further twist:  if you were ISIS, why wouldn't you take credit anyway, even if the fire was indeed an accident?

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    • Notre Dame Fire: Will There be "Backlash"? (John Heelan, UK 04/17/19 3:24 AM)
      Concerning the Notre Dame fire, JE commented on 17 April: "Perhaps some inflammable solvents/adhesives/paints from the restoration process were accidentally ignited? Still, there's no doubt that a lot of 'profanation' of religious buildings is going on in France."

      Emphasised no doubt by PR from the Roman Catholic Church that is losing its congregations.

      Today's UK gutter press--e.g. the Daily Mail--published a photo (photoshopped?) implying a miracle happened during the devastating fire.

      The danger is that one of the results of the conflagration could spread to the mainly Muslim suburbs as in "The Banlieues are burning!" as a new Reconquista gets launched.

      JE comments:  For now it's unity time among France's fractious political parties.  There has even been a suspension of campaigning for the EU Parliamentary elections, to be held on May 26th.  Still, after the initial shock wears off, one can expect the usual suspects to try to use this tragedy for political advantage.

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  • Notre Dame Fire: Mood in Paris (Carmen Negrin, France 04/16/19 6:37 PM)
    Notre Dame is a World Heritage site, French, indeed but a jewel that belongs to all of us, Catholic or not, French or not.

    I have to admit that after Charlie, after the Bataclan, after the destructive Gilets jaunes at the Arc of Triomphe in particular, I didn't have the courage to watch the Cathedral burn down and haven't gone by to see what is left of it. It is part of the French history.  Just to cite our more recent history: Charles Péguy, Victor Hugo, de Gaulle, Mitterrand and so many more.

    Officially it will be rebuilt, but specialists still have question marks: too much water inside the limestone it is built with, which is precisely why there was a scaffolding in place.

    Let's hope for the best.

    JE comments: All hearts are in Paris today, Carmen. Thank you for checking in.

    Will Notre Dame be rebuilt? I have no doubt. All it takes is will...and money. Dresden's Frauenkirche is an excellent example of sacred architecture rising from the ashes.

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  • Notre Dame Tragedy: Paris Mourns (David Pike, France 04/18/19 5:56 AM)
    I respond to Enrique Torner's kind condolences and his impossible challenge: How to convey to WAIS the feelings of this city beyond what has already been expressed in every report.

    I am not a parisien de souche, but I am more than a francilien and I pass the cathedral so often in my daily movements. To see it now without its spire is not something easily put into words. Nor the expression on the faces of Parisiens standing along the quais, watching it burn. This was not some nightmare to wake up to, but a four-hour agony to follow from the riverside or on constant screen.

    It so happened that The American University of Paris opened its new 18M E annex on the Seine less than a month ago. Now is not the right time to talk about it, but I may not have another opportunity. Its interior decor is of such elegance that the only university that comes to mind to rival it, in my experience, is the Universidad de Navarra in Pamplona (in Franco's time, if not now.) From its eighth floor AUP has a view of the two Iles to the east. Watching a matchless source of city pride burning helplessly, despite every effort made to save it, defies description. The best was saved, almost miraculously. It still waits to be seen what effect that colossal heat has had on the stone structures.

    JE comments:  Touching words, David.  I can only imagine how devastated our mentor, Ronald Hilton, would have felt.  Prof. H saw Europe's great cathedrals as the pinnacles of world cultural achievement.

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