Monday, July 15, 2019
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Notre-Dame de Paris: rebuild a cathedral, my God it's long!

"Tell, grandfather, how many centuries would it take to rebuild a cathedral?

Our grandchildren are not used to watching TV at the news hour. And this is very well so. I imagine that last night, however, they could not escape from some images, so spectacular and so deeply saddening, of the cathedral Notre-Dame in flames. And this arrow and these roofs that we will see live collapse. I imagine it and I hope so too.

Beyond their traumatic dimension, these images broadcast throughout the evening and these special programs were worth lesson history and life, and testimony of faith too. An echo complementary to what today's schoolchildren learn about the history of French and European heritage.

Our generation remembers the textbooks we used in elementary school when we were kids. The time of cathedrals obviously had its place. With some drawings – rather than photos – and this abstract printed on a background of color that we had to memorize for the next lesson. We learned to admire the know-how of the builders, their daring and the perseverance of Christians.

To make a tree …

Notre-Dame de Paris, just a few years ago, celebrated the 850th anniversary of its construction. A building actually spread over nearly 200 years, between the 12th and 14th centuries. Not to mention the additions, embellishments and renovations that had hardly ever stopped since then.

So how long will it take to restore Notre-Dame's appearance yesterday when we were not even sure tonight of being able to save the building? Many decades, surely, and maybe more. To make a tree, to make a frame, to make a cathedral, my God it's long! And how many trades will they be called, necessary as they were in the Middle Ages. How many stonecutters, carpenters, roofers?

We will rebuild it!

The renovation project, which lasted ten years and was launched last year, had already solicited the generosity of the public: ten million donations had been collected. It will be necessary to mobilize again and on a larger scale donors, France and the world. Last night, in any case, the historian and religious specialist Odon Vallet did not doubt the future of Notre-Dame de Paris: "We will rebuild it! This excerpt deserves to be rebroadcast. And many more, heard throughout this night's specials. By hearing them, our grandchildren will not have a hard time grasping what is behind the words: hope and faith, quite simply.

Yves Durand

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