Tag Archives: conflagration


Detail from Notre-Dame, one late afternoon, by Henri Matisse (1902).

One brilliant afternoon in 1977, I was met at the door of Notre-Dame by a formidable ancient nun, who was swathed in a voluminous black habit and brandished a collection box. The photos I took of the cathedral were of typical amateur quality, but it meant a lot to me to have evidence that I’d been there.

I’m one-half French, so I can’t help but feel a bit hollow inside (despite my also being two-and-a-half generations American). It’s sad that modern technology could not prevent the catastrophe that has haunted all Gothic cathedrals ever since their erection. But the comfort I take from the demise of Notre-Dame is the reassurance demonstrated by the Founder of Christianity.

Not “Au revoir,” but “Je reviens.”


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