France’s trauma over Notre Dame is shared around the world

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

It is not hard in Northern Ireland to get a sense of the trauma that was being felt in France last night.

When, last August, Bank Buildings in our capital city suddenly was burned to core in a devastating fire there was shock and sadness.

That blaze was an inferno that destroyed a handsome, landmark building that had survived the Nazi blitz and also the Troubles.

There is such affection for the structure that housed Primark that the population of the Province has accepted long-lasting disruption in the heart of its biggest city while the edifice of such an important building is saved, and a much loved begins the slow process of returning to life.

But even in Northern Ireland there are scores of buildings as notable as Bank Buildings. In France, there are many hundreds and hundreds of grand such period properties.

Yet even in France, a country that has some of the oldest and richest and most beautiful architecture in the world, a country that has palaces at Versailles and Fontainebleau, Notre Dame is in a different league to almost anything else.

It is, as Ruth de Saint Hilaire says in our paper today, a Belfast woman whose home has been Paris for more than 50 years, one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world.

Its stunning design, its towering frame, and its intricate interior has evolved over the best part of a millennium.

It is steeped in legends and stories, but rooted in real history, and is one of the most famous places of worship on earth. It is, therefore, along with the Eiffel Tower, a must see for tourists to that great city.

The horrified reaction from leaders around the world to the fire is testimony to the scale of the tragedy.

Perhaps it can be rebuilt. In Barcelona, work on Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia cathedral has been ongoing for 136 years. Maybe the rebuilding of Notre Dame can take place over a long, long period of time and the progress itself become an attraction to visitors and an example of human ingenuity.