On April 15, Notre Dame, the 14th century Roman Catholic cathedral in the center of Paris, caught fire while undergoing repairs. People all across the world watched as the medieval spire fell and Parisian firefighters tried to put out the fire.
Completed in 1360, the Gothic cathedral is home to classic architecture, historical artifacts and timeless art. It was referred to as “the poor people’s book” because its various sculptures represented different biblical scenes that the illiterate parishioners could view.
“Notre Dame embodies France in a way,” Celine Hodge, a French native and LU assistant director of Cardinal Communities, said in an email interview. “It is reminiscent of our past — a royalty regime, the spirituality of French people and our revolution. Geographically, it represents Paris, all roads are measured from and to Paris from that focal point.”
Hodge’s first master’s degree focused on medieval history and she said she feels connected to Notre Dame through her passion for the era as well as her heritage.
“Culturally and aesthetically, this is one of the most impressive Gothic cathedrals of the middle age,” she said. “Personally, I love its location — the breeze you can get from the riverbanks. It is one of my favorite spots for people watching while eating a sorbet from Berthillon.”
Hodge said that she is glad no one was hurt in the fire, but she disagrees with the rebuilding of Notre Dame being France’s top priority.
“I am profoundly cynical,” she said. “It was sad to watch as it was happening but I feel better knowing that it was an accident, not a terrorist act, and that no one was physically hurt.
“The political recuperation has been hard to deal with. (Emmanuel) Macron, our French president, is now making the rebuilding of the cathedral a priority. I feel that France and French people could utilize these financial resources in better ways.”
Hodge said that she does hope that Notre Dame will remain one of France’s gems.
Olivia Malick, UP managing editor