Madame Stroud Responds to Notre-Dame

Valerie Davis, Co-Editor-in-Chief

What is your reaction to the Notre-Dame fire?

Monday afternoon, I was devastated. I just sat in my classroom after school in tears.  My mom texted to check on me because she knows how much I love the cathedral, but I couldn’t pull myself away from the news.  It might seem silly to be that upset over a building, but that particular building is so much more than just stone, wood, and glass.  The cathedral took 200 years to construct.  Given the short life expectancy of people in the Middle Ages, think about how many generations of people came together to make Notre-Dame the masterpiece that it was and is.  It has been through a lot in its long life – it has been ransacked, nearly leveled, left to fall apart, and poorly restored, but it has also been the site where empires began, where wars have ended, where people have been welcomed and sheltered regardless of faith or belief.  I was pretty doubtful Monday that it would ever be restored or that anything would be left of it, but now that news is coming out about just how much has been saved (the stone structure, the statues from the roof, the organ, and the rose windows, to name a few things), I am really hopeful.

How many times have you been there?

I lived in Paris during college.  I got there a day before my program started because that’s how my flights worked out, so I had a day alone to explore.  I hadn’t been to Paris since I took a very quick trip there a few years earlier, so I was a little lost and already homesick.  It’s a big city, and if you aren’t familiar with the layout, it can be unforgiving with its small narrow streets that change name sometimes right in the middle and with all of the buildings that are so similar in design (this was before smart phones…I’m that old and was too proud to use a map).  I decided to walk to the major monuments just to get my bearings and geographically, Notre-Dame was the closest so I went there first.  I got a little lost on my way, but I remember distinctly hearing the bells and using them to find my way to the river, and then walking across a bridge and turning the bend putting me right in front of the cathedral.  I didn’t go into the bell towers during my previous trip, so I decided to give it a shot that time and was awe-struck to have the best view of the city, and to see the gargoyles up close.  The cathedral is at the center of the city, so it helped me that day figure out where I was and see where I wanted to go.  It was cold and started to rain so I went inside and wandered around for a good long time admiring the rose windows, the roof, the organ, and the art.  I left feeling like I knew more about my new home away from home, and feeling like I had a place where I could always go if I got lost.  I made a good friend really quickly in my program and dragged him with me that Saturday to see what a mass would be like.  We were both hooked, and went every Saturday to listen to the organ (the acoustics were amazing) and to watch the way the sun would set through the stained glass. We would listen to the shuffle of feet of the tourists and the people whispering around us.  It’s the first place I go when I go back, and the first place I recommend to anyone who asks for suggestions if they’re going to be in Paris for any amount of time.  I don’t think I can count how many times I’ve been there, but I can’t wait to go back in a few years to see it again.  It’s my favorite place in the world.