A Paris Tragedy (Dennis Aubrey)


PJ and I are devastated by the fire at the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris, but the news is not all bad.

This photograph was tweeted by https://twitter.com/areinaud/status/1117916691353067521?s=20 and is the first shot I’ve seen from inside the fire zone.

As you can see, most of the vaults on the western side are intact and the wall structure of the rest appears good. Not sure about damage done to the windows. The damage done by the fire was enough to collapse the vaults to the east, but firefighters appear to have controlled the fire enough to save the western vaulting. We should have known the strength of Gothic vaulting. During the time of July 15-18, 1918, the retreating Germans shelled the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Reims with 16,000 shells, inflicting massive damage. But the quadripartite vaulting withstood direct hits from German 105mm artillery shells without collapsing. As we all know, the cathedral was rebuilt, even though inestimable treasures were lost. If you are interested in more, read this story.

So while the losses are massive, the genius of the medieval builder has once again been proven.

For a little solace, may I proffer some Maria Callas?

16 thoughts on “A Paris Tragedy (Dennis Aubrey)

  1. It is an immense loss of historic treasure. Maybe there is a little bit of silver lining in that it will show us the fragility of our world and permit us to join to preserve what we still have and realize that we share common values. Thank you for having taken us to see so many of these treasures and telling us their history.

  2. I read your post this morning about the restoration of Chartres cathedral and thought, well, now there’s another one that will need restoring.

    1. Trish, how wonderful to hear from you again. Hope you are well as can be on this blue day. But all is not lost. I have heard that most of the treasury including the relics were saved.

      1. I’ve read a few comments online expressing grief for the loss of the whole cathedral. But clearly most of the stones are still standing. Let’s build churches like that again. For you, Dennis, there’s even more reason to photograph old churches. It might not take a war to bring a church down, perhaps just a renovation gone wrong…

  3. Hi Dennis,
    Watching the TV coverage I was almost in tears. I had imagined Notre-Dame utterly devastated. To see the Rose window intact and so much of the interior still looking as solid as before gives one such hope. The world gives thanks to the brave firefighters. I was also pleased this morning to hear that 300 million Euros have already been pledged by 2 of France’s richest men. I hope to see Notre Dame rise from these ashes.

    1. Doug, we had the same reaction except that PJ and I were in tears as we feared the total loss of the cathedral, especially when the video came just after dark. It looked like an inferno that could never be stopped. That’s why I felt such relief (and respect for the medieval builders) when I saw that Notre Dame de Paris would survive yet again. She will arise. The French will make sure of that.

  4. Reading your enlightening post and seeing the photos from WW 2, I have hope where yesterdayI felt despair. Thank you for this post.

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