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Browning / Notre Dame, France’s Heart on Fire

The words speckled my screen just before sunset: Incendie à Notre Dame, Christophe typed, fresh out of a daily contractor meeting for an office tower rising up on the south edge of Paris. Nothing had fallen yet. We both assumed it was a minor accident that the famous Pompiers de Paris would quickly quell. By the time my husband climbed up the metro stairs a half-hour later, flames had eaten the lead-sheathed wooden spire mounted atop the transept at the heart of the cathedral. By nightfall the central roof was gone. From our small sixth-floor balcony, I watched chimneys of orange smoke puff toward the sky until after midnight.

“Is there anything to be said about watching Notre Dame disappear?” a friend and colleague emailed. “I am just in tears — that beautiful building; the rose window I loved best in the world,” wrote another from Boston. “I read with horror that Notre Dame is on fire,” said a third, a Peruvian sound engineer I’d known in Washington.

Paris is a noisy place. Motorcycles, clattering horns, amped up minstrel bands everywhere. “Silence. Just silence,” Christophe found as he walked down the hill toward the Seine and the smoke. “No one talked. Just standing there, hundreds of people. In shock, so many holding their heads in their hands.” Tears and silence.

Long described as the Catholic Church’s First Daughter, France is also known as the most secular country in Europe and possibly the West. At most, 5% of the population attends ...

To finish Reading CLICK HERE (Notre Dame, France’s heart on fire, Los Angeles Times)

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