It was all over social media. Today, the 12-13th century Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris burned down. Only the bell towers were salvaged. No word yet regarding the 19th century pipe organ inside. As far as we know, only the structure of the cathedral remained. That means the 800-year-old wooden walls inside are gone. The pews are gone. The stained glass are burned. All manner of wood and storage areas are all gone. All floors inside are gone.
France said that it will begin fund-raising tomorrow and rebuild. While that’s a noble move sure to encourage Catholics around the world, I think it will take at least 2-3 lifetimes to rebuild. The last time the cathedral burned down, it took them 200 years to rebuild.
The Notre Dame had survived many centuries of wars and disasters, surviving until today. Today, literally.
According to other news reports, there are at least 230 pounds of lead in the steeple that burned down to the ground today. While no one was killed in the fire today, who knows how that lead will poison the first responders in the future. I pray that the firefighters will be safe. When burned and mixed with water, lead becomes toxic (according to a cathedral tour guide in Germany).
Throughout the entire episode, I am reminded of that verse in the Old Testament. Man cannot build enough to contain God, to house God. Maybe that’s an encouragement.
“But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!” (2 Chronicles 6:18).
What a sad day today. I am not a Catholic, but the Notre Dame is on my bucket list of European cathedrals to visit. I don’t know what it will look like when I do get there. Maybe it will be a heap of toxic ruins. I don’t know.
Maybe this is a turning point for Parisians to turn to God and repent.
Maybe Christians will rise up to pray for France. And the world, for that matter.
Regardless of whether this was the work of an arsonist or whether it was a renovation accident, I still pray that at the end of the day, God will get all the glory.
Updates (April 16, 2019):
- A golden cross (not a crucifix) glowed in the sanctuary when firefighters entered the burned cathedral.
- Yes, the cross is still there.
- The firefighter chaplain rescued the crown of thorns.
- The stone wall of the entire cathedral (850 years old), together with the two bell towers, survived the fire.
- Apparently, the interior is not entirely damaged because the vault between the roof and the ceiling acted as a fire buffer.
- Yes, the 19th century 8000-pipe organ survived.
- The gargoyles on the roof and the statues around the steeple had been safely removed days ago due to the steeple renovation.
- According to initial reports, the investigators ruled out arson but are focusing on it being an accident.
- However, according to media outlets, French churches have been vandalized and set on fire in recent days.
- Other churches desecrated across Europe.
- The 58-acre oak timber roof (800 years old) was burned off. But someone said that hundreds of years ago, they had planted acres of oak for such a time as this. Is this true? IDK.
- Westminster Abbey (750 years old) in England assured the world that they are taking precautions.
- Constructed in the 19th century, the steeple looks like an odd addition.
- Billionaires have pledged to donate to the restoration of the Notre Dame cathedral.
- More fire damage assessment in the news.
- How the timber roof collapsed (sad).
- And they let the fire burn for 12 hours until all the 800-year-old timber roof was destroyed?
- Fighting fire with robots!
- The “after” photo showed that even though the fire looked furious, most of the cathedral seemed to have survived.
- France said they will rebuild in 5 years.