Notre Dame de Paris

What happened at Notre Dame on April 15th 2019, reminded everyone who had ever visited the majestic cathedral of the moments shared beneath its towering architecture. In this special episode, we talk about what makes Notre Dame so unique to the world as a whole, and to us personally. Our feelings on Notre Dame are a good representation on how we feel about everywhere we visit and the reason behind why we love to travel together. 

To us, travel is about moments shared. Moments between each other and the place we go. Our memories are tied up in geography, architecture, history, and culture. And the thought of one of the strands of that web being removed seems almost painful. That’s why, when we saw what happened at Notre Dame, we couldn’t help but sit down and do what we always do, chat about the things that astound us and reminisce about the times we’ve had.

While the reality of what happened to that great symbol of France is sad, we’re relieved that so much of the building was spared. There will be a chance to rebuild, something that Notre Dame has actually had to experience a few times. Built on the foundation of previous churches and temples, it took about 100 years to complete the most iconic parts of the church. It continued to grow and change but by the 1600s, with it’s style at that point out dated, it fell into disrepair. During the French Revolution it was taken by the new religions of the age of enlightenment. By 1800 it was going to be torn down. Napoleon decided to save it. Victor Hugo then made it popular through his book Notre Dame de Paris, the famous story of the hunchback Quasimodo. This re-popularized the cathedral and money poured in for its restoration.

One of the interesting things I came across while getting ready for the episode was an academic article, written by M. Cecilia Gaposchkin about the iconography above the Porte Rouge, a door used exclusively, at the time it was built, by the leaders of the church. The sculptures above the door depict a king and queen bowing down to Mary, aka Our Lady, aka Notre Dame. At the time there was tension between the leaders of the church and King Louis IX. King Louis IX did not financially support Notre Dame, instead he had his own church built just a few blocks away (the Sainte Chapelle) and gave money to monastic orders. This was not well received by the Bishop of Paris who saw himself as the head of the church in Paris. The iconography above the door through which the leaders entered the church, was an expression of how they saw Notre Dame’s place in France: it was ordained by Christ and the King was under its authority.

Stephen Reed