THE SYMBOLISM was striking as photographs emerged of the giant cross still in place on the altar of the iconic Notre-Dame cathedral hours after a devastating blaze left this historic building in ruins.
On the eve of Easter and spiritual events to mark Christ’s resurrection, its very survival has been likened to a miracle and become a symbol of hope for a shattered France – and all those who cherish world heritage sites – as thoughts turn to the restoration of this 850-year-old cathedral.
Now bereft of the historic medieval timbers that lined the Notre-Dame’s roof, known as la foret, and which were the backdrop to so much history and trauma through the ages, the French should draw great comfort from the outpouring of compassion around the world as flames engulfed a place of worship visited by 12 million people a year.
And the fact that the foundations of the cathedral were unyielding, and withstood such a ferocious inferno, is testament to the remarkable craftsmanship which existed nine centuries ago, provides further hope that the Paris skyline will not be altered irrevocably.
Thanks to the brilliance of French firefighters, and staff who risked their own lives to retrieve priceless antiquities, the Notre-Dame can – and will – rise from the ashes while retaining much of its allure.
This reassurance can be offered following the painstaking restoration of York Minster following its lightning strike in 1984, and the more recent conservation of its landmark Great East Window, as well as the work that took place at Windsor Castle after a fire in 1992.
Both were restored to an exemplary standard by the skills of those craftspeople whose expertise will be invaluable to the Parisian authorities in the weeks, months and years to come. And if this entente helps Anglo-French relations that have been made more fraught by Brexit, so much the better.