This week there was a fire at the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris. I hope I speak for the entire world when I say that any damage to this treasure is a devastating loss to all of human culture.
Notre-Dame means “Our Lady.” It’s a Catholic cathedral dedicated to the Holy Virgin. Before construction began in 1163 there had been at least four different churches on the site. Before those four churches, there was a Gallo-Roman temple. And before that, some believe, there was pagan goddess temple on the site. There’s no proof of that. But what we do know for sure that, for some time following the French Revolution, Notre-Dame was renamed the Temple of Reason and the Goddess of Liberty replaced the Holy Virgin on some of the altars.
Fifty meters in front of the cathedral you will find le Point Zero des Routes de France. When a French city’s distance from the capital is measured, it is from this point that the measurement is taken. Notre-Dame is the center of Paris and, from the Middle Ages through the Enlightenment, Paris was the center of Western culture — the home of the greatest academics, the greatest universities, the greatest libraries, the greatest museums, the greatest fashion, the greatest food, and more.
With all this in mind, is it a coincidence that le Point Zero is an 8-pointed star — the Star of Isthar? Is it a coincidence that this cathedral would be so central to Western culture, given that it is the Holy Virgin who gives birth to the babe who changes the world forever? Is it a coincidence that the famed North Rose Window of Notre-Dame depicts the Holy Virgin and Christ child at the center — surrounded by 88 circled images? No, it is not a coincidence at all.
Because Notre-Dame de Paris is the navel of the world. Surely we must grieve for her, pray for her, support her, and see her restored and preserved forever.