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April 16, 2019


Katherine Jones


While this loss will be measured in tangible items and cost of repair, the intangible, emotional loss to our psyche is immeasurable.

Thank you for posting this wonderful piece and the photographs. As I mentioned I never got to go inside (always too late in the day, I guess) but you have revealed the beauty that was present.


Susaan Straus

Nicely concise and your emotional response to both the church and the event is clear and strong. Great photos. The pigeon in the shot is amazing.

One question (not about writing): where is the forest of oak timbers? I couldn’t see anything but stone..

Paul A. Tamburello, Jr. aka PT from Boston

Parisians call the timbers that frame the cathedral "the forest" because it took that many trees to construct it.
Quote from CNN:
"The cathedral's wooden frame, which primarily consisted of oak, contains beams that date as far back as the first frame built for the cathedral. That frame featured trees cut down between 1160 and 1170, forming one of the oldest parts of the structure." https://www.cnn.com/style/article/nortre-dame-fire-oak-wood-trnd/index.html

Paul A. Tamburello, Jr. aka PT from Boston

Thank you, so many swirling emotions many of which come from deep places as old and mysteriously interconnected as those oak timbers that framed the dome.

Paul A. Tamburello, Jr. aka PT from Boston

The Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris is often affectionately referred to as The Forest because of the many wooden beams that have been used in its construction, and each of the beams came from a different tree, many of which were around 300 to 400 years old. In fact this building is made up from 1,300 oak trees that represents approximately 21 hectares of forest.https://www.eutouring.com/facts_notre_dame_cathedral.html

Jeffrey Piccoli

Such a treasure, lost. Such history, deleted. Such a tragedy that didn't have to happen. The French government owned the building and the Catholic Church was responsible for its upkeep. Both failed this treasure which was deteriorating before our eyes. I will remember my visit to this magnificent Cathedral. This may have been an accident or worst, deliberate. We will never know for sure for I am sure the French government would never admit anything other than an accident.


Such a well written piece. Thank you for reflecting on this terrible loss for the world so eloquently. Hope you are well. I think of all I learned from you often.

Nona Bock

Heartfelt article PT. Photos are incredible.

Paul Sinopoli

Excellent piece on this unbelievable and sad event Paul.

Buona Pasqua!

Paul A. Tamburello, Jr. aka PT from Boston

Thank you, Paul,
The emotion I felt in my gut when I first saw the flames was as if I was watching my own home burn. Having visited the cathedral, I had sensory memories of the experience of first entering, its interior at once immense but welcoming, shafts of light penetrating from the rose colored stained glass windows, the smell of incense and thousands of tiny votive candles in the tiny altars along the length of both sides of the cathedral, and the sense, quite unexpected, of reverent awe. Time seemed to stand still. Men and women knelt in the small chapels, lit votive candles, and became lost in reverent prayer or, like me, let history, culture, distant memories of catechism and my first childlike experience of the mystery and teachings of Catholicism, the gospels, stations of the Cross, the crucifixion, well up in an unexpected river of images and a time when religion and the religious spirit seemed so much more innocent and pure.

I entered as a tourist, I left as an unintentional pilgrim, touched not just by the collective sense of what the cathedral represents but of what it has witnessed, Napoleon crowned there in 1803, Joan of Arc being beatified there, yes, but also the millions of visitors who’ve come not only to pray but to experience the mixture of the secular and the religious on a scale so huge that it can only be grasped in the gut, the heart, and later, much later, by the brain.
Buona Pasqua!

Susan M. Bennett

Paul- A wonderful piece, I think you captured the event and the emotion of it with your photos and descriptions. Those of us who have been there and people worldwide are mourning. So much lost but also saved due to heroic effort by firefighters, priests and others. Please do follow ups on this story. Isn’t it a strange thing that it happened before Easter. Let’s hope Notre Dame rises again to beauty, health and inspiration.


Thank you for the beautiful photos. You mention in the beginning paintings, relics and stained glass. It is my understanding that the art and relics were saved through the heroic effort of the firefighters and their chaplain and that the stained glass miraculously survived.
I didn't see this mentioned in the comments but the "forest" consisted of beams that were whole tree trunks.

Paul A. Tamburello, Jr. aka PT from Boston

Thank you for your comment, Rebecca,
I learn more every day about the fire. here are three stories i read in past days

Art and relics saved…

A Guide to Our Notre-Dame Fire Coverage from New York Times

The beams cut from oak trees

It is pretty miraculous that the whole cathedral didn’t collapse from the stress.

Paul A. Tamburello, Jr. aka PT from Boston

Vision for the future rebuild for Notre Dame Cathedral from an unexpected source


Looking back through my Notre Dame articles - not sure if I sent this one to you:https://www.theartnewspaper.com/comment/gothic-vaulting-saves-notre-dame-from-total-destruction

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