Brief thoughts on Notre Dame

I saw the headline come across my screen earlier today “Notre Dame on Fire.” My heart sunk. What a tragedy. An 800+ year-old symbol of the Catholic faith and Paris destroyed- just like that.

What a loss. It is not merely a building. It is an iconic landmark and example of dedication, amazing architecture, and history. It has been the setting for books, plays, movies, musicals, politics, revolutions and so much more.

As is the trend today, I wanted to post a few pictures of my experience there – not to say, “Hey look! I’m cool, too!” but to take a minute and reflect, and share some deeper thoughts.

My EC and I went to Paris in 1999. We debated about climbing all the way to the top, but it was worth eery step. Not often you can see a gargoyle up close.

Years later, in 2008, Chrissie and I met up with our daughter Emily and visited again.

Looks like the past decade has had its way with me.

Notre Dame is an example as to why some tourist spots ARE tourist spots. It is gorgeous, and cool. It is easy to forget that it is also a place of worship. When we were there, most people made an attempt at bringing down the volume out of respect. Others didn’t seem to care.

It is tragic to lose a place of worship – especially one so renowned. I don’t care if it is a Catholic cathedral, a Jewish synagogue, a Muslim mosque, a Buddhist temple, etc. The loss of ANY religious symbol in the world is a loss for the world.

The world needs more focus on religion, and it is such a statement that the end of days is approaching as we see churches (especially Christian) being burned all over the world, and the continuing flight from organized religion.

As I was thinking about the loss of that magnificent cathedral, I couldn’t help but personalize it. In 1846 – young by Notre Dame standards – the Nauvoo temple was dedicated. A mere two years later it was destroyed by arson.

My ancestors were involved in the building and the sacrifice surrounding the building of the Nauvoo temple. Most were gone before the temple burned, but I’m sure when they heard, it pained them.

Not that long ago – in 2003 – the Apia Samoa Temple burned to the ground. Hearts were broken as the saints who considered it “their” temple dealt with the loss.

My heart goes out to the people of Paris, and the members of the Catholic Church. Today marked a tragic day. Yes, it is “only a building.” It is temporal, it is temporary, but it means so much more than that.

We, as saints who have also lost our own holy and historical sites, should feel it, too.


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  1. Why would the restored church donate to rebuild a symbol of the Great Apostasy? Have courage a do what is right, no matter what.

  2. Interesting thoughts. I know that some of my ancestors worked on the Nauvoo temple and were heart broken when they left. 2 of them received their endowments, then immediately climbed into their wagon to head west. Incidentally, some of my ancestors were instrumental in building Notre Dame as well. We never made it to Paris when we lived in Europe.
    we did visit many “old” churches and cathedrals in Germany and Holland however, the architecture is amazing. Kirche Sankt Johannis in Schweinfurt, Germany still has cannon balls embedded in it’s walls from the 17th & 18th centuries and some shrapnel damage from WW II. (another one that my ancestors contributed to building) which was started shortly after the first four phases of Notre Dame were completed.

  3. “For those interested in the destruction of Notre Dame Cathedral, you might find Ken Follet’s “Pillars of the Earth” book series interesting. It details the centuries long construction of medieval cathedrals and the lives of the people who built them.” (by Art Chance–a friend of mine.)

  4. I shed tears when I first saw this it was so stunning. I sent a message to a friend that works in the temple department and asked her to find out if she could if the Church will consider donating, and if they could put a special category in the Humanitarian (or building fund?) donations for it, we would be happy to donate extra to that cause.

  5. Really liked your thoughts about the importance of religious buildings and symbols—so needed in the world today.

  6. I was also reminded of the not-so-long-ago fire that gutted the Provo Tabernacle and collapsed its roof with all the emotions and memories that surrounded that. Seeing how it was rebuilt shines a bit of hope on this situation for me.

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