Notre Dame- Fiction Interrupted

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Word Ladder, Death and Taxes, will continue next week.

We left Paris on Easter of 2015, after ten days of being tourists. Though we hadn’t intended to, we witnessed the veneration of relics from the passion of Christ ̶ the crown of thorns, a piece of wood and a nail from the cross ̶ at Notre Dame Cathedral. This is how that happened. My husband and I were standing in an apse, whispering about how difficult it would be for photo recognition software to distinguish between the apostles pictured in the stained glass ̶ their faces are virtually the same ̶ when a deacon indicated we should move and shushed us with a finger to the lip. A little puzzled, we complied. Looking around, we saw a procession moving along the aisle. A priest (most likely the bishop) held aloft a reliquary containing the glinting gold crown. Assistants on either side held the other relics. For about twenty minutes, they moved slowly through the church as people crossed themselves and bowed their heads.

It is this scene that came to mind when I heard on the radio a few days ago that Notre Dame was burning. My first thought was to hope that it was not the result of a terrorist attack. Following the story in the news during the next few days, I was relieved to hear that the fire was accidental. As information has come in, it seems that someone miscalculated. Things got out of control. Often they do. This might be true for political conflagrations as well. If so, let’s hope that we can get those under control and that a respect for the accomplishments of the past can rescue the future. Notre Dame has been rescued and rebuilt several times.

The Easter Week commemorations for Good Friday and Holy Saturday will be held at Sainte Sulpice and Easter Mass will be celebrated at Sainte Eustache. Sunday organ concerts are held each week at Sainte Sulpice, though I’ve never been. The organ at Sainte Eustache is is quite powerful. I’ve heard it. The seating is spartan, consisting of folding chairs. But this is true of most churches we visited in Paris.

The organ at Notre Dame was spared from fire by a stone roof. When we were there in 2015, a sign was posted on a collection box requesting donations to make a few repairs to that organ. Perhaps now that people have opened their pocketbooks to rebuild the cathedral, the organ can be restored completely. This is how things progress, in fits and starts, forwards and backwards, with a crisis often required to concentrate the mind.

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