Cover image: The rose window, symbolising her receptivity to God, survived the fire
18 April, 2019
Note: “Notre Dame”, the French name literally means; “Our Lady” referring to the Mother of Jesus, or Mother Mary! I knew it because of my childhood attachment to her and the little French I knew. So I read several articles on “Notre Dame” and was disappointed to find no reference to HER but only to the Gothic architectural beauty and finally landed on this and more articles.
Catholic & Secular!
The beauty and grandeur of Europe centred on France is its Catholic moorings and attachment to Jesus and Mary, in spite of the fact that most of them may not be Church goers and fierce advocates of separation of Church and State, ever since the French revolution.
But still, the whole nation is caught in a shock and feels like Mother Mary watching the dying agony of Jesus on the cross and finding comfort that crucifixion has to be followed by Resurrection. To make this message drive home, the Catastrophe has happened during the Holy week. Also most of them see it as a wake up call, a warning to a decadent worldly life, to set better examples of Christian Good Samaritan life.
Colourful North Window!
Mary, Mother of Jesus is represented by the brilliant colorful huge North Rose window with Mary seated on a heavenly throne with Jesus in her lap — yes JESUS the light of the world entering this world, a dark vale of tears. It is all very biblical with meaning and message, which no ordinary tourist visitor will be able to grasp.
To understand this Christian message one should see it when the sunlight enters the Church through this stained rose petal glass window. Not only this unparalleled window was not eaten up by flames, a priest took the risk to rescue even the “Crown of Thorns” believed to be of JESUS from the flames.
Mary’s House of bread!
Nay more, it is Mary’s Cathedral, offering to a hungry world, her bread of life, Fruit of her womb, the first tabernacle, proclaiming the presence of Jesus by the lighted sanctuary lamp in the church below. See another article explaining how it is also: Mary’s House of Bread! Jesus said so: ‘I am the Bread of Life!’ james kottoor, Editor CCV.
Please read below Catholic
Herald article: It’s Her Cathedral
Almost without exception, the response to the Notre Dame fire has overlooked something of immense importance. Or rather someone: Notre Dame, Our Lady, the Mother of God, to whom the cathedral is dedicated. Even Catholics have understood the Marian character of the building. Bishop Robert Barron, for instance, rightly praised the beauty of the North Rose window, its colour and mathematical design.
He described it as “a foretaste of heaven in its beauty.” But the rose window also depicts the relationship between heaven and earth made possible through Mary. She sits at the centre of the rose with her Son in her lap, making for him a throne on earth even as by containing him in her womb she became heaven. It matters that Mary is depicted in glass: the sunlight streaming through the window symbolises the light of God entering into the world through her and taking on flesh.
St Bernard of Clairvaux put it beautifully: “As a pure ray enters a glass window and emerges unspoiled, but has acquired the colour of the glass … the Son of God who entered the most chaste womb of the Virgin, emerged pure, but took on the colour of the Virgin, that is, the nature of a man and a comeliness of human form, and he clothed himself in it.”
It is highly symbolic that the North Rose window should be among the treasures which survived the blaze. In the Middle Ages, such a survival would have been taken as a miracle. The cathedral of Notre Dame at Chartres caught fire (not for the first time) in 1194. At first the townspeople were devastated, wondering if it was worth rebuilding at all, given that it seemed the Virgin had abandoned her shrine thanks to the sins of the people.
But then it was discovered that the great relic of the cathedral, the Virgin’s chemise, had survived the fire, and the people vowed to rebuild the cathedral even more magnificently than before.
Notre Dame in Paris has played an important role in the history of France, but it is not just a building. It is a throne for Mary, the Queen. As Bishop Barron observed, the cathedral sits at the centre of Paris: since it was built in the 12th century, it has been at the centre of the civilisation that radiated out from the University of Paris.
As the medieval Christians who studied at Paris saw her, Mary was the Mother of the Word, and therefore the magistra of all the liberal arts. She was also looked to as the Mother of Wisdom, through whom students could learn the disciplines of grammar, rhetoric, and logic. Under Mary’s patronage, modern philosophy and science were born.
It will be a great tragedy if France rebuilds the cathedral as if it were only a beautiful building or an example of human creativity. It is, in reality, an example of what human beings can make when inspired by the Incarnation of the Word through the womb of the Virgin. That faith is the source of its beauty. Without faith, it is simply a shell of glass and stone.
Read below another article inseparably linked!
It’s equally her House of Bread!
Notre Dame is not, & never
Should be, just a Museum!
in Catholic Herald
16 April, 2019
By fire below
As the Archbishop of Paris put it, the cathedral was built to house the Bread of Life
The debris in the sanctuary after the fire
Note:Notre Dame or Our Lady of Paris is full of Christian and biblical messages. If there are no preachers to do it, stones, bricks and mortar are doing the preaching. There can’t be an Our Lady without her son who is called or said of himself: “I am the Bread of Life.” That is what Archbishop of Paris refers to.
House of Bread too
So the Cathedral in Paris is “Our Lady’s House of Bread” as well. So explicit it is for Pariseans. In other words, for the French people, “Notre Dame” is Mary the heavenly mother presenting Jesus as the daily bread, for the starving humanity.
For the tourist who have no faith or religion it is only an “architectural Jewel” of past glory of a Napolean Bonapart crowed here. The tourist who crowd in here take more selfies than say heart-felt prayers. But for Catholic believers it is the living Bread of life, the Eucharistic Jesus in the tabernacle – figuratively Mary who brought him forth to the world.
Seat of wisdom
If the French revolution and secular universities like Sorbonne of Paris turned it into a temple of Reason, liberty unlimited and throne of the Goddess of all secular wisdom; it bounced back with equal speed as the ‘Mother of all Truth’, Seat of wisdom (Sedes Sapientiae), and deliverer of the eternal WORD MADE FLESH! So it continues apparently and humbly, in the words of the Archbishop of Paris as “un morceau de pain – a piece of bread,” Catholics believe is the “Body of Christ.”
May it now bounce back in due course! It surely will, not in three days like the resurrection after the crucifixion. Material structure itself is going to take years! And the spiritual, Christian evival? God alone knows when. Since there is no “Catholic God” Parisians may not even opt for Christian God, but may opt for a “Humane Humanity” after the example of the “Son of Man” acceptable to all. james kottoor
Much has already been written, even hours after the devastating fire!
Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, about the “iconic status” of the building, its value to world heritage and the fact, noted by Pope Francis, that the building was “an architectural jewel of collective memory.”
It took, however, the quiet but thoughtful Archbishop of Paris, a former medical doctor, Michel Aupetit, to ask, rhetorically, quite why the building was, and is, a “jewel.”
Interviewed on French television, Archbishop Aupetit, said simply that the magnificent basilica was built for one reason, not to be a “jewel,” not even to house the Crown of Thorns; Notre Dame existed for “un morceau de pain – for a piece of bread,” the bread, he said, Catholics believe is the “Body of Christ.”
All churches, from the magnificence of Notre Dame in Paris, St Peter’s in Rome, to a tiny village church or a mud hut in the missions, if the Eucharist is present, are built to be the “domus Dei,” the house of God.
For a Catholic, the real absence we feel on Good Friday, when the tabernacle is empty and the sanctuary light extinguished, is a palpable confirmation that, in a sense, where the “morceau de pain” is not present, a church is a zombie church, seemingly alive but really dead.
Rightly the world, especially those who consider themselves cultured, were horrified seeing ISIS destroy ancient artefacts from Mesopotamian civilization, and the attempted destruction of Palmyra in Syria. Notre Dame de Paris is an object of world heritage, a thing of beauty appreciated by those of all faiths and none.
Yet the purpose of the building also speaks, not only to the reality, ignored by the constitution of the European Union, of the massive contribution of Christian culture to the creation of Western civilization, but to the living faith without which the basilica would be just a museum.
The Basilica of Our Lady in Paris was named, not as one of the network talking heads said to “honour the building as a mother,” a sign of the growing religious illiteracy of those in the media, but dedicated to the Mother of God, the first living tabernacle of the Word made Flesh. This “icon” points to something greater than man, its verticality and visibility as sign of the transcendent, to the truth of the Faith which laboured for more than a hundred years to build it.
When the monsters who unleashed the horror of the French revolution desecrated the basilica and named it the temple of the “Cult of Reason,” destroying images of Our Lady and replacing Her with the “goddess of Liberty,” in an sense the basilica ceased to exist, but, rather as the churches of former communist countries which were used as sports halls or cinemas were restored to sacred use, so Notre Dame returned to her former glory once the sacraments were celebrated again.
Speaking to the French bishops during their ‘Ad Limina’ visit in 1997, Pope John Paul II congratulated the French State for its care of so many cathedrals and churches but, he said, the liturgy “must always be the true raison d’etre of these monuments.”
Our Lady’s house of bread, the “morceau de pain” which is the Body of Christ will rise again, and the basilica will be living church. It will not be a museum, however much of a “jewel of collective memory” it is.