Heartbreak in Paris (and around the world)

The images are almost too much to bear. The world’s beloved Notre Dame de Paris, iconic symbol of medieval beauty and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, scarred by a fire that destroyed its spire and two-thirds of its roof April 15.

The cause of the fire is not yet known though it appears to have begun in the attic.

Objects, of course, are not just objects. They’re attached to memories and relationships. Buildings in particular are the past’s investment in the future, created by those who went before for those who will come after. The past does not know the future, but a building, a cathedral, holds both in its arms.

How could you look at those images and not weep?

But out of ashes rises hope. Several French luxury and tech companies have already pledged $700 million to repair Notre Dame, including the LVMH Group, Kering and L’Oréal. In February of last year, we wrote about the American Friends for the Preservation of Saint Germain des Prés Church, which is raising money for the restoration of Saint Germain, a jewel of a Parisian church, scheduled to be completed in 2022.

No doubt there will be funds – American funds – to help rebuild a cathedral at the heart of a country that gave us the State of Liberty and did much to assure American democracy.

Georgette Gouveia

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