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An Artist’s Take on the Fire at Notre Dame

Swasti Bhattacharyya

Kayla Sweet, Staff Writer

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The eyes of the world were watching Paris, France on Apr. 15, 2019, when the Notre Dame Cathedral started ablaze at 6:30 p.m. in the framework of the attic.  As an avid student and traveler, I am devastated of the aftermath from the Notre Dame burning.  

At Buena Vista University, I had the opportunity to take many art history classes in which I learned about the Notre Dame Cathedral and its French Gothic Architecture. Construction started on this cathedral in 1163, and the original designer was never able to see it finished.  

What was exciting for me after learning the history of the Notre Dame was having the opportunity to visit Paris for J-term 2018 as part of a Europe traveling opportunity. Notre Dame was among the tourist spots we went to and talking about it could never do this place justice.  

It was early evening and had been raining on and off all day. The cathedral was large and demanded everyone’s attention in comparison to surrounding buildings. The stained-glass windows showcased the beauty of fine details and gave a glimpse as to what heaven might look like. Walking through this place was mesmerizing, and my eyes were continuously drawn to the windows no matter what side of the building I was on.  Colors were glistening even when the sky was grey; they were what brought light to the dark halls of the cathedral. What a remarkable experience it was for not only me and everyone that traveled with me, but also for everyone who have had the chance to see the cathedral in person.  

Another favorite moment of mine was going through the hall of artwork. These pieces were miraculously preserved along with the main structure of the Notre Dame Cathedral. There was art throughout the entire building. One wing was filled with a narrow hallway breaking into rooms for large portraits, jewelry, and sculptures.  

I am thankful that most of the original structure is intact; that the artwork within the cathedral is saved, and that no one was killed. It is a miracle the statues were taken out for cleaning, saving them from the flames. There was an image that went viral showing a cross standing tall above all of the rubble I believe God had a hand in saving the most important pieces in this travesty.  

In addition, there is an importance in rebuilding the cathedral for many reasons: history, religion, and art, among others. From a historical standpoint, there are not a lot of buildings from the 12th century both still standing and strong enough for people in today’s society to walk through. The Notre Dame Cathedral was a beacon for Christians when it was built, and it continues to be the same for Christians today. It captures God’s beauty through his creation’s on earth. I wish more people had the opportunity to see the same beauty that I saw.    

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