Just one year ago a fiery inferno ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. This past Good Friday, April 10th, the Archbishop of Paris led a service unlike any that have gone on before inside this 850-year-old jewel of Gothic architecture.
Archbishop Michel Aupetit and three clergymen who accompanied him wore hard hats as they entered the damaged cathedral that is closed to the public and which he described as “half collapsed.” They then took off their helmets for the ceremony, in front of a large cross and the gaping hole in the cathedral’s roof.
He venerated a crown of thorns, believed to be that of Jesus, that survived the flames. Through 40 minutes of prayer, music and readings under the blackened remains of the vaulted stone ceiling, he said that “life is still here” amid the coronavirus pandemic “spreading death and paralyzing us.”
“A year ago this cathedral in which we find ourselves was burning, causing shock and momentum worldwide to rebuild it,” he intoned.“Yes, Lord, come to show us that you are not abandoning us,” he prayed.
Since March 17th, 67 million French have been placed in lockdown. Since the start of the lockdown, the reconstruction project involving around 100 engineers, scientists, architects and archaeologists has been put to a halt.
As of April 14, a total of 137,877 confirmed COVID-19 cases have been recorded in France, with a death toll of 14,967. With this, the reconstruction of the cathedral is of course out of the priorities for now.
“Notre Dame is an 850-year-old lady,” the rector of Notre Dame Cathedral, Monsignor Patrick Chauvet, said. “She’s an injured, old lady.
“And for all the elderly, the injured, those in quarantine, or isolated in retirement homes, I think there’s a symbolic link. There’s no-one around Notre Dame either. She’s has been left alone, but not abandoned.”
You and I are like Notre Dame Cathedral, we have been left ALONE, BUT NOT ABANDONED.