France’s Hope for “Our Lady of Paris”

Rachel Spinella
Features Editor

Everyone remembers the Disney classic, ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’. Taking place in medieval Paris, France, the story centers around a deformed bellringer named; Quasimodo who lives in Notre Dame Cathedral. For almost everyone, this childhood film exposed audiences to the famous and most noteworthy Cathedral in Paris. So when news broke on Monday April 15, that Paris’s most famous church; the Notre Dame, had caught fire, not only did it affect the people of France, but it affected others from around the world.

Many people know of the Notre Dame’s existence, but not everyone gets to see the beautiful historical monument, home to the city of love. Similar to Paris’s own Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame is one of the many iconic monuments in France. As it is not only a cathedral but a piece of historical art too.

The original history of the church remains somewhat a mystery. It isn’t completely certain whether the cathedral was constructed in the 4th century and remodeled later, or if it was built in the 7th century from an older church; most likely the cathedral of Childbert I.

In 1160, Maurice de Sully, the bishop of Paris, chose to build a new and much larger church. He ended up demolishing the Romanesque cathedral and recycling the materials from it. The bishop further decided that the new church should be built in the Gothic style; two Gothic cathedrals (Sens, Senis and the Basilica of Saint Denis) were already in the process of being reconstructed at the time.

Along with this, just like in Disney’s classic film, the cathedral has exactly 10 bells named; Emmanuel, Marie, Gabriel, Anne Geneviere, Denis, Marcel, Etienne, Benoit-Joseph, Maurice and Jean Marie. Sadly these bells were taken down and melted into cannons during the French Revolution. Yet, each of these bells names have meanings and links to the past before they had been melted down.

With a lot of history and the notable architecture inside this massive cathedral, it is no wonder why many people around the world were affected by the news of the fire.

According to the New York Times, around 500 firefighters battled the blaze for nearly five hours. It was only by 11 pm Paris time, that the structure was saved. They continued to report that around two thirds of the roof had been destroyed, but thankfully, no one lost their lives.

France’s president, Emmanuel Macron stated at the Notre Dame in a brief speech that, “The worse has been avoided even though the battle is not completely won.” He continued to state that the cathedral would be rebuilt.

After the incident, CNN reported that 3 of France’s wealthiest families have donated millions to rebuilding the Notre Dame. The 3 families that manage big companies, LVMH Group, Kering and L’Oreal pledged to donate a total of E 500 million ($565 million) after the destruction that took place at the cathedral.

LVMH Group’s CEO; Bernard Arnault has promised E 200 million ($226 million). While the Pinault Family that oversee the luxury conglomerate; Kering, have promised to donate E 100 million ($113 Million). And L’Oreal; Bettencourt Meyers has pledged to donate the same amount as LVMH. Other big French companies are following right behind their example to save the Notre Dame.

With these French companies taking action to help reconstruct the Notre Dame, it shows how important this centuries old church really is to people not just in France but to many others too. In fact, the Notre Dame literally means, “Our Lady,” and is lovingly referred to as, “Our Lady of Paris.”

The Notre Dame has stood for 800 years, and is the very symbol of French heritage and unity and will continue to do so.

Categories: Features

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