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By Edwin Benson


Religious oriented or not, shock and consternation set in almost instantly. To watch the iconic Paris cathedral of Notre-Dame burn set many a mind and heart in agony and foreboding. Local French residents lined the streets in sorrowful singing and prayers.

Reporters discussed the cathedral’s importance as a French landmark, tourist attraction and UNESCO heritage site. Offers of aid poured in from all over the world. Almost immediately, there was a clamor that the cathedral be rebuilt exactly as it appeared before the fire.

 

The Importance of Notre Dame

For devout Catholics, the partial loss of this treasure was traumatic. Indeed, in the architectural hierarchy of the Church, Notre-Dame de Paris ranks with Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Some cathedrals may be older, larger or even more beautiful. However, no cathedral is more recognizable than the great Gothic structure on the Seine. Notre-Dame is the towering symbol of the Catholic Faith in France.

The influence of Notre Dame goes far beyond France to the whole Catholic world. Architects in the United States drew inspiration from the French interpretation of the Gothic style. Millions of American Catholics worship in front of altars and windows influenced by those of Notre-Dame.

That influence was threatened by the first plans presented for the restoration. Many architects made outlandish modernistic proposals that would have remade the great cathedral in their own image. French President Emmanuel Macron appeared to be considering some of them.

A great outcry erupted throughout France, asking for an “authentique” restoration. The French Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) gathered nearly 144,000 signatures in a short time as part of the reaction against those who would disfigure the structure through an inauthentic restoration. And the American TFP’s premier campaign, America Needs Fatima, joined in sending over 22,000 concerned petitions from America. The efforts paid off.

According to the Associated Press, “Macron came around to the traditionalists’ argument, and approved reconstruction plans for the twelfth-century monument that were presented Thursday [July 9, 2020], according to a statement from the state agency overseeing the project…. That means how Notre Dame was on the afternoon of April 15, 2019, before the fire broke out, consumed the roof and threatened the rose-windowed twin towers that keep the cathedral upright.”

 

A Public Display of Tradition

As a demonstration of the restoration, craftsmen presented a sample oak truss in front of the cathedral on September 19, 2020. As part of European Heritage Days, carpenters displayed one of the twenty-five trusses that will support the new roof in front of the Cathedral.

The truss was made with medieval carpentry techniques. A Catholic News Agency story on the event quoted architect Romain Greif, who attended the event with his family. He spoke for many when he said, “It’s a moment to see ancestral techniques that last. There is the present and the past, and it links us to our roots.”

The original trusses of giant French oak were built during the thirteenth century but replaced during a nineteenth-century restoration. It will be years before this new truss takes its place atop Notre Dame, but the sample proves that the medieval methods can still be replicated.

 

Delaying an Already Massive Task

The restoration suffered many delays. When COVID-19 struck, all work stopped. According to Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris, a full three months was lost.

Reconstruction of Notre DameAnother delay was the threat of workers’ exposure to lead. According to a study published in GeoHealth, Notre Dame’s roof contained 460 tons of lead. Researchers found lead dust up to thirty-one miles from the site.

The restoration can only begin after removing massive amounts of scaffolding. When the fire struck, the cathedral was undergoing a restoration process, which required scaffolding. It must now be carefully removed because the fire affected both the metal in the scaffolds and the stone which supports them.

The stone may present a more critical problem. Most of Notre Dame is built of limestone, which can turn to dust at roughly 800-900 degrees Celsius. The heat of the fire was estimated at 800 degrees. The possible effect of the water on the heated stone must also be considered. The possibility of heat and water damage means that the thousands of stones that will support the new roof and spire need to be carefully and individually inspected.

 

Reasons for Hope

However, medieval builders knew what they were doing as Stone Specialist points out.

“The medieval masons who constructed the massive cathedral had put the lead-covered wooden roof structure above a vaulted ceiling constructed of 800m3 of limestone, intended to protect the interior in case the roof ever did catch alight. It was largely successful. Below it, rattan chairs, priceless paintings and stained glass windows were largely undamaged. A gold-plated cross above the altar and the Pietà… were among many priceless works of art that were protected from the effects of the blaze.”

It took about two hundred years to build Notre Dame. If the spirit of those who want to see Notre Dame restored to its pre-fire appearance holds firm, the job will be accomplished in much less time. Generations yet unborn will see its magnificence. The restoration may yet serve to bring the French people back to the Faith, which too many of them ignored.

Let us pray that it be so!

 


Originally seen on returntoorder.org

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for July 28, 2021

My confidence is placed in God who does not need our help fo...

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July 28

 

My confidence is placed
in God who does not need our help
for accomplishing His designs.
Our single endeavor should be
to give ourselves to the work and to be faithful to Him, and
not to spoil His work by our shortcomings.

St. Isaac Jogues


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Samson of Dol

In Cornwall, he converted a number of idol worshipers by mir...

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St. Samson of Dol

St. Samson is counted among the seven founding saints of Brittany. He was born in Wales, his father being the son of Amon of Demetia and Anne of Gwent, daughter of Meurig, king of Glamorgan and Gwent.

Early in life his education was entrusted to St. Illtud, the abbot of Llandtwit Fawr.

Seeking an even more austere life than this school provided, Samson moved to the island monastery of Caldey where he became a model of virtue. There, he succeeded St. Pyr as abbot.

Later, his father Amon and an uncle joined him in the monastic life. At one point he made a visit to Ireland, and on his return, with his father and uncle retired to a hermittage.

But his peace did not last. He was again made abbot, and was subsequently consecrated bishop by St. Dubricius. After a vision instructing him to travel beyond the sea, he sailed for Cornwall, converting a number of idol worshipers by miraculously restoring a boy who had been thrown by a horse.

He founded a couple of churches, after which he sailed for Brittany possibly visiting the Scilly Islands, one of which is named after him.


In Brittany he traveled extensively preaching and teaching, and working many miracles. A town in Guernsey bears his name. He founded two monasteries, one in Dol and another in Normandy. While visiting Paris he attracted the notice of King Childebert who is said to have appointed him bishop of Dol. Samson died peacefully among his monks in the year 565.

Photo by: Humphrey Bolton

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort relates t...

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The Rosary and the Possessed Girl

In his book, The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort relates that a Dominican, Father Jean Amat, was once giving a Lenten Mission in the Kingdom of Aragon, Spain, when a young girl, possessed by the devil was brought to him.

Father Amat began the exorcism. After several unsuccessful attempts, the priest had an idea; taking his Rosary, he looped it around the girl’s neck. 

No sooner had he done this, the girl began to squirm and scream and the devil, shouting through her mouth shrieked, “Take if off, take off; these beads are tormenting me!”

At last, moved to pity for the girl, the priest lifted the Rosary beads off her neck.

The next night, while the good Dominican lay in bed, the same devils who possessed the young girl entered his room. Foaming with rage, they tried to seize him, but he had his Rosary clasped in his hand and no efforts from the infernal spirits could wrench the blessed beads from him.

Then, going on the offensive and using the Rosary as a physical weapon, Fr. Amat scourged the demons crying out, “Holy Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, help me, come to my aid!” at which the demons took flight.

The next day on his way to church, the priest met the poor girl, still possessed. One of the devils within her taunted him, “Well, brother, if you had been without your Rosary, we should have made short work of you…”

With renewed trust and vigor, the priest unlaced his Rosary from his belt, and flinging it around the girl’s neck commanded, “By the sacred names of Jesus and Mary His Holy Mother, and by the power of the holy Rosary, I command you, evil spirits, leave the body of this girl at once.”

The demons were immediately forced to obey him, and the young girl was freed.

“These stories,” concludes St. Louis de Montfort, “show the power of the holy Rosary in overcoming all sorts of temptations from the evil spirits and all sorts of sins because these blessed beads of the Rosary put devils to rout.”

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In the Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort relates that a Dominican, Father Jean Amat, was once giving a Lenten Mission in the Kingdom of Aragon, Spain, when a young girl, possessed by the devil was brought to him.

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