Why France has felt, suddenly, hit in the heart by a dagger? Won, in front of the images, by an invincible dread? At the beginning of the holy Week, catholics could not of course fail to be flooded with sadness unutterable the spectacle of one of their most beautiful cathedrals flaming like a torch in the dark night. But they were not alone. The Parisians who flocked to the bedside of Our Lady as the one of a loved one left in tears before the opening, that would leave the claim at the centre of their city. Lovers of heritage were seized from a top-to-the-heart of the spectacle of the smoking ruins of the masterpiece of incomparable a gothic arrived from its beginnings, by a master-stroke, to the fullness. The older ones used to calculate the restoration, any energy that we place there, would take so many years they would revisit not the monument in all its glory. The French followed the event interminable on the screen of their television or their laptop had the feeling of attending a disaster irreparable, even after the head of State had found the right words, promising them the same evening, to rebuild the cathedral.

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many other churches have been vandalized, other monuments were burned or destroyed (the museum of Rio de Janeiro, the cathedral of Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Turin, la Fenice in Venice) without giving rise to emotion comparable. Other accidents have been mowed, more seriously, the lives of innocent human beings. With Our Lady, we all understood from the outset that it was something else. A fate otherwise had touched the untouchable.

To the disciples, who had, of course, dismayed, to prophesy the ruin of the Temple of Jerusalem, Christ had made that warning, which resounds today strangely in our ears: “What ye behold, the days will come when there will not be one stone upon another.” To the Romans, who flocked to Carthage, in the aftermath of the sack of Rome, and which echoed in complaints about the lost city, the houses burned, the fortunes placed in the hands of the Barbarians, st. Augustine had responded by reminding them that they should not lose sight of the ephemeral nature of all that prospered under the Sky. “All of this was built to fall into ruin, some day. (…) What a man has done, another destroyed it. (…) The heaven and earth will pass away, is it then a wonder that a city ceases to exist?” The construction of Notre-Dame had not escaped herself, in the Twelfth century, in the controversy: those who heard them, such as Maurice de Sully, its initiator, to celebrate the glory of God, by the splendor of his temple, had replicated a disciple of Bernard of Clairvaux, proclaiming that the Creator could not find his complacency in the prayer of the humble, and that it was sin to build churches with magnificence.

“we would have to say Notre-Dame de France. It does not need to be a part of our identity: if words have a meaning, it is the very heart.”

Michel de Jaeghere

how is it that these reasons slip on our minds without a trace? They leave us incredulous, disconsolate?

It is said and we repeat that human dignity lies in its ability to extricate itself from the circumstances of existence, to gain access to the universal. Nothing more true, since this ability is the very mechanism of thinking, that makes us men. But we are not pure spirits. We are also beings of flesh, subject to the emotions of the heart. Our sensitivity, our way of being in the world, and until the turn of our language and, thus, our thought itself, are marked by what we were given to see. By the landscapes of childhood, as by the monuments familiar in our history. Our Lady is, for all the French, one of those. It is ours. It is not indifferent that it is very rare that the believed to have to clarify, talking about it, “Notre-Dame de Paris”, as we say, “Our Lady of Chartres”. It is for us, for ever, Notre Dame. It should say Notre-Dame de France. It does not need to be a part of our identity: if words have a meaning, it is the very heart.

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It is certainly not in vain the name of the mother of God: like all cathedrals, Notre-Dame is, of course, a great catechism of peter. Of the birth of Mary, her Assumption and her coronation in Heaven, its gates condense the whole destiny of the Virgin mary, until his role of intercession at the last Judgement, in the Sky. Its stained glass windows depict the veneration of the patriarchs in respect of that to which he came to fulfill the promises of the Old Testament. Its facade combines, in an extraordinary vertical, the mystery of the Incarnation, to Christ the judge, showing his martyred body, and the instruments of his Passion at the time of separating the elect from the damned. Christ the teacher of the pier, to the door, snaps on the Cross of glory, who overcomes, in the choir, the Virgin of pain by offering to God his Son tortured.

In the history of the catholic Church, it was held, for nearly nine centuries, one of the first places. The laying of its first stone had benefited from the presence of pope Alexander III. One of the first masses celebrated in the chorus the was by a patriarch of Jerusalem. She has hosted several councils in the nave. Three popes have made a pilgrimage.

But its influence has mysteriously gone beyond what was its reason for being. She, more than any other, inspired our poets, François Villon in Péguy and Claudel. Victor Hugo made it the allegory of a Middle-Age mythologized, stripped of its spiritual dimension, a world of barbaric delivered to the brute force and passions to the contrary. Balzac chose for the backdrop of the opening at its side of contemporary history.

St. Louis has entrusted to him the most precious relics

It became, even more, the beating heart of the legendary national. What we made ours. The fabulous compendium of our own history. “France is recited, according to the word of cardinal Feltin, the rosary perpetual its joys, its sorrows and its glories.” The mysteries joyful, sorrowful and glorious our destiny.

Saint Louis handed it to him, before the construction of the Sainte-Chapelle, the most precious relics: the crown of the king of glory, purchased at the price of gold to the latin emperor of Constantinople. Philippe le Bel was chaired, on 13 April 1302 the first states general. The kings of France took the habit, count of Valois, to hear a Te Deum in the aftermath of their coronation in Reims. Their bodies returned to them, on the eve of their funeral at Saint-Denis. The bowels of Louis XIII and Louis XIV were deposited. Over three hundred of the Te Deum were sung. Henry VI of England was crowned king of France in December 1431, in the presence of the bishop Cauchon, and Charles VII was solemnly celebrated, in 1437, the collection of its States. In November 1455, the trial of rehabilitation of Joan of Arc. Francis I. was celebrated in 1524 the reconquest of Milan. Francis II married Mary Stuart, and the future Henri IV, queen Margot, prelude galant to the fateful massacre of Saint-Barthélemy. The king of Navarre being, then, a huguenot, the marriage had been celebrated on the square. The Béarnais do was to penetrate that twenty-one years later, in the cathedral, on the 22nd of march, 1594, to celebrate his entry into the capital, listening to this mass, that, really, Paris was well worth.

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Richelieu commemorates the fall of the protestants of La Rochelle. Louis XIII offers his crown and sceptre to the mother of God, in commemoration of the vow by which he dedicated his kingdom and his subjects. Louis XIV made a display with the flags taken from the enemy. Winner of the prince of Orange at the battle of Neerwinden, in the war of the League of Augsburg, François Henri de Montmorency-Luxembourg reports as long as it wins the nickname of “the upholsterer of Notre-Dame”. It buries Turenne and the Great Condé. Immense catafalques decorated with statues, skeletons, lit by the glow of gas flares, erected by the royal Menus plaisirs, which is inspired by the practices of Italian to create spectacular effects, while, in his pulpit, Bossuet preaches on the vanity of grandeur land. Louis XV came there to thank God for having made escape from the knife of Damiens, and the regicide made himself amends before it can be cleanly pulled apart by four horses in the place de Grève. Louis XVI gives thanks for the birth of this little duke of Normandy, soon to be the child king of the Temple. It is still in its nave is held on April 23, 1789 the electoral assemblies for the election of the deputies of the third estate to the states-general. There that the municipality of paris comes to make thanks to the storming of the Bastille, July 15, 1789, and August 5, for the extinction of feudal rights.

The time is yet come for Notre Dame to know the sorrowful mysteries. While it chases and kills the priests are refractory, it is closed to the worship of the November 7, 1792 to August 15, 1795. We celebrated the November 10, 1793 the worship of the goddess Reason with Miss Aubry, the first subject of the ballet of the Opera in the title role. The bells, reliquaries are sent to the cast. The kings of Judah, which commemorated, on its façade, the singular fate of the French monarchs, and the vocation of the people of franc to be done, in the service of the Church, the chosen people of the new covenant are taken to the “gothic statues” of the kings of France and beheaded as symbols of tyranny. The rood screen is thrown to the bottom ; the statues be spared are sent to the museum while on the square, the festival of Freedom is in full swing.

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The glorious mysteries will have a slightly bitter taste. In 1804, the coronation of Napoleon is a comedy that sees shake up conventional costumed in cute of the court of Henri III, and people regicides empanachés in the decoration of a temple néogrec. Napoleon and Josephine have to wait more than an hour, the pontiff, in a cathedral which is not heated, on 2 December. We married the day before the underground infrastructure in disaster, so put them in a state to hear mass. David had to give up painting when Napoleon had himself crowned. The image had appeared grotesque. The seed point of the crowning of Josephine under the eyes, resigned to the sovereign pontiff, the eye’s mocking of Talleyrand.

Charles X tried to return, the day after his coronation, with the tradition of his fathers. But the wire was broken. In 1821, baptized at Notre-Dame “miracle child”, the duke of Bordeaux, then with the same pomp, in 1856, the prince imperial. A Te Deum was hailed, July 11, 1830, the capture of Algiers, a few days before the fall of the monarchy legitimate. The dignitaries of the Republic would soon succeed to those of royalty and empire: Jules Grévy, Sadi Carnot and Felix Faure take over, waiting for the marshal Foch (1929), marshal Pétain (April 26, 1944) and the general De Gaulle (on the 26th August of the same year). Sic transit gloria mundi.

“It is this need of the human soul that had identified Simone Weil, and that the slaughterers of the school have wanted to, for the past fifty years, to ignore : the vital link that unites us to our past.”

Michel de Jaeghere

a privileged Place of encounter between the history of our country and the catholic faith, Our Lady is not only the witness of the flexibility of the body formed in the upheavals of our constitutional history. It is also – the crowds came spontaneously to accompany the superhuman effort of the fire brigade, the night of 15 April, by their prayers on street have given the ultimate witness – a resounding refutation to those who claim to hide the links multifarious that unite christianity to France.

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The emotion aroused by the disaster, at a time when roman catholicism became a minority, where religious practice is the work of a small number of, obvious, however, something else. It is this need of the human soul that had identified Simone Weil, and that the slaughterers of the school have wanted to, for the past fifty years, to ignore: the vital link that unites us to our past. Promised a short life, man would be only a meteor, to the horizon of history, if he had the ability to place his individual destiny in the long memory of his predecessors: those who came before him and who have acquired, by being born, a capital of knowledge, of memories, of experiences without which it would have to be an animal, naked, miserable, illiterate, and defenseless. If all the French were, nevertheless, achieved, 15 April, looking at the terrible spectacle, though the island of the City appears to us more today, from the pont des Arts, that as a ship, its mast, a frail skiff to drift in the hurricane of history, this est that it was certainly of a venerable sanctuary, in the same time as a sublime work of art, one of those by which we have accessed to the sense of beauty, but perhaps it is especially because this cathedral is a summary of our history, the collective adventure by the mediation of which is offered to us, a destiny sublime our individual limits. That we are part of a heritage, a lineage. That makes us smugglers from a deposit that we are aware of the need in our turn transmit them, as we feel how, we in excess, as it requires us. This has been achieved, it is this that makes us, each in our place, the custodians of the treasure of civilization.


Notre-Dame, France in the heart

The fire, which occurred Monday, April 15, ravaged the cathedral listed as world heritage of humanity. The Figaro Hors-série publishes a special issue dedicated to this masterpiece.

This edition is a reprint of the Figaro Hors-série of 2013. Some texts have been changed and the magazine has been enriched with twenty pages dedicated to the event.

Le Figaro Store, Notre-Dame, France in the heart , 8,90€. For each le Figaro Hors-série sold,€ 1 will be donated to rebuild this jewel of French heritage.

Our Lady : why such an emotion ? The decryption of Geoffroy Caillet – Watching on Figaro Live