"I still have a tight throat." In his hesitant French, the voice timidly shaken by jolts, Ho-jin, 28, says he has ironed dozens of times, Wednesday, April 16, the video footage of the cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris devoured the day before by the flames .
Difficult at first glance, however, to imagine how, thousands of kilometers away from the climate of desolation that has seized the French capital, for more than 24 hours, the drama could have so intimately affected this South Korean engineer, residing in a central district of Seoul.
"We had all come to the bedside of Notre-Dame"
"The first time I discovered the building was during an exchange trip with a Catholic high school in the Paris suburbs to consolidate my French. I was fifteen, and I was literally dazzled, tells the young asset. "I then made the promise that I would take these old stones as witnesses, one day, of my marriage proposal. Today, I do not know anymore … It would not be the same anymore. "
"A bad joke"
of the "Heartbreaking scenes", a "Disaster" ravaging "A huge symbol," and striking " in the heart " citizens from around the world. From Washington to Beirut, from Madrid to Dakar, the disaster ended up in a few hours at the heart of all planetary concerns. And this, well beyond the circle of official figures. "At first I was stunned: at first I even thought it was a bad joke. Then I changed channels … And I spent most of the night watching, and praying, " says Dr. Nicolas Zouain, head of department at Clemenceau medical center, in the north of Beirut.
"Here, Lebanese of all faiths, who have kept a special relationship with France, feel very touched " continues the forty-year-old former student of Saint Joseph University (USJ). On the other side of the Mediterranean, Ioannis Papadopoulos says to himself "Absolutely devastated" by the fire. This professor of Greek political philosophy remembers with emotion those three years spent in the immediate vicinity of the cathedral when, studying in Paris in the 1990s, he attended the National School of Magistracy, two steps away. Today, he even thinks he has a "debt" towards the monument.
From Monday, April 15, in the evening, the academic paid 200 € – a large sum in view of the national salary level – for its reconstruction. Because, according to him, this momentum goes beyond his only person. "Around me, everyone only talks about that, explains this resident of Thessaloniki. This catastrophe is as if it had occurred at home, it is as if the Acropolis was in flames. For him, Notre-Dame remains well "The symbol of European civilization and of Christianity". "I think there will be immense solidarity," he rejoices. "This catastrophe unites us and proves that there is a European conscience even if it is not seen in everyday life".
"My heart is liquefied. I can not imagine Paris without Notre-Dame, it's an icon that collapses ", adds, from Washington, Nora Summerville, a thirty-year-old Jew who spent a summer in the capital. Beyond the architectural emblem, some remember the memory of an intense spiritual experience lived between the walls of the building. "I felt a real Presence" says Adrien Goudiaby, a Catholic computer scientist in Dakar, who visited the cathedral in 2017.
Notre-Dame de Paris, a cathedral and much more …
The great moment of communion was mostly virtual. On Monday night, the twittosphere also ignited around #OurDame, retweeted millions of times. Facebook, Instagram, Messenger … "The young people of our choir shared their emotion on the Whatsapp messaging", tells in Madrid, Coqué Carnicero, of the NGO Energias sin Fronteras.
Many people are now aware of the memory work that will be needed to preserve the memory of the building "Before". Like Ahmad Pahrizi, a forty-year-old from Tehran, Iran, converted into the translation of great French books stuffed. "When I saw the pictures, I thought at first that this was the beginning of an apocalyptic film. We always have the impression that monuments like Notre-Dame are eternal … "exclaims the former journalist.
Dark coincidence, Ahmad Pahrizi has been working since last year on a thorny construction site: Notre Dame of Paris, by Victor Hugo. "The book is very popular here, but there is no good translation …", He explains. More than ever, he seems determined to go after his big project.