No single catastrophic event has bit so deeply into the core of the cathedral and its soaring spire as Monday’s fire that lit up the city skyline. As thousands lined the banks of the Seine to gaze up at the flames, there were few words to convey their fear that a central part of the French national identity and eight centuries of its precious history had been lost in a single transcendent moment.
I share their sentiment. Since my earliest days in France half a century ago, Notre Dame has always served as a lodestone. And while I never prayed inside, my dearest friends certainly did. Indeed, one told me that she never thought she could feel so deeply about a building as she did Monday night.