Paris Notre Dame fire
  • I have often wondered what the original, medieval, flèche looked like.
  • ...the original...
    I may be mistaken, but I believe that there was no spire (fleche) previous to Viollet-le-Duc's in the mid-nineteenth century.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,297
    The original spire was built from 1220 to 1230. ... In March 1606, the large cross at the top of the spire and the relics that were inside it fell due to wind and decay. The rest of the spire began to collapse due to the ravages of time in the middle of the 18th century, and it was taken down from 1786 to 1792.
  • Am I the only one who has often thought that the two west towers look incomplete without spires? Were they ever intended? They must have been. Many such buildings were left incomplete due to a failure of funds or changing priorities. The marvelous stone spires at Cologne's cathedral were only finished in the nineteenth century.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,863
    Paris is not the only major French cathedral where spires ultimately were not used to cap the west towers. Rheims is another, for but one example. Amiens is almost one (there's a stunted cap on one tower.) In these cases, it may be because proceeding would have thrown off the balance of the evolved and executed sculptural designs of the west fronts. Spires were always a risk to towers; not all ended up happily married or stably so. Many spires came crashing down. Consider Lincoln's and old London's, too.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,176
    Spires are also known to twist and tilt as green wood ages, dry wood shrinks, the heat from the sun warms one side more than the other, etc. Here is St. Mary and All Saints, Chester.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,863
    Peterborough is an example of one where missing spires makes it harder to understand the design rationale for the west facade, one of England's peculiar Gothic glories. Here's an image of an informed reconstruction (from 1780, no less) of the intended design, where the spires would be a balanced counterpoint that helps the viewer "read" a very unusual narrow-wide-narrow-wide-narrow 5-part design of the west front:

  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,715
    Chesterfield, if you're googling.
  • I read that President Macron had originally been in favour of a moderne restoration which would feature a glass-roofed restaurant atop the cathedral, or a swimming pool and bistro, etc. It is worth singing a Te Deum for that he saw the light and came around to an exact replication, including the controversial lead roof and most other authentic features.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,863
    Where did you read his favoring such *detail*. Those were among the zany products of instant charrettes by certain self-promoting firms. All that I believe might have been reported was that Macron was, effectively, open to a modern option.
  • Ken of Sarum
    Posts: 406
    Let us recall the horrific happening to the old spire that once was upon the crossing of Ely Cathedral. As a result of its fall, we now have that glorious octagonal Lantern structure in the crossing.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,430
    It was probably the wise this to do, and any design in any style would have been a very hard sell.

    I am glad that this was the decision, however I will disagree with some of you in that sometimes the melding of ancient and modern styles can work. An example in point is Coventry Cathedral. I think the great baptistery window by John Piper (one of my fav artists) is quite magnificent, and the stark ruins of the old structure combined with the new is quite moving. Now go ahead and jump all over me...
  • Ken of Sarum
    Posts: 406
    To each their own taste I suppose. As an older kid brother, I had a younger little sister that loved her hotdogs rolled in dirt in combo with noodles Romanov. OH YUCK - LOL!
  • I agree with Greg. And Coventry is a good example, especially since it would not have been feasible actually to rebuild St Michael's Cathedral. The 'restorations' that some proposed for Notre Dame are not good examples. Only a godless, artless, and tasteless people would put a swimming pool, glass ceiling, and a bistro atop a mediaeval cathedral. That better minds prevailed is worth a Te Deum.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,620

    St Mary's Cathedral in Coventry was destroyed by the Obese polygamist (Henry VIII). St Michael's a 14 /15 c. parish church only became a Cathedral (anglican) in 1918.

    Coventry was the only English Cathedral destroyed by the obese polygamist... The 'seat' was transferred to Lichfield...
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,898
    I think Coventry looks fine and I thought the tapestry beautiful. Restoring the old church would have been nearly impossible. The organ at Coventry is amazing. I am with you on this ghmus7.
  • IdeK
    Posts: 87
    About the two western towers of Notre-Dame, actually the way the rooftops are built indicates that spires were to be built over the towers in the 13th century but the construction never started. There is controversy about wether Viollet-le-Duc wanted to rebuild them at some point, but he finally didn't do it, so they never existed.

    About President Macron deciding not to do anything "modern" : basically he is not an absolute king, and there is a committee in charge of historical heritage (commission nationale du patrimoine et de l'architecture), gathering curators, elected representatives from the Parliament, people from non-profit organizations working for in the heritage field and all kind of experts. They reached a consensus on the fact that the Venice charter and every restoration ethics indicated the cathedral should be restored as much as possible in the way it was before. It would have been hard for our President to pass over the consensus of the experts.

    I don't know that he favored one or another of the horrors we saw in the weeks following the fire.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,430
    So Henry VIII was not only a polygamist but an obese polygamist!!
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,430
    One is aghast at the kind of mind that would suggest a swimming pool as a roof.
  • He was not just obese, Greg. At the time of his death he weighed 4oo pounds. He died believing that he was a good Catholic and bequeathed his soul to our Lady of Walsingham, whose shrine he had plundered.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Jackson,

    If he died reconciled to the church which he had so ruthlessly plundered, then he died believing correctly that he was (finally) a good Catholic.

    Charles II is said to have converted to the Catholic faith on his deathbed, as is Oscar Wilde. (That's a comparison worth exploring on another forum).

  • Chris -

    James II was the victim of a successful coup by his grateless and despicable daughter precisely because of his Catholic leanings and fear that he would return England to the Catholic fold.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,863
    James II. And his own actions had a hand in his downfall, which at least wasn't a beheading for him. Charles II's and James II's illegitimate daughters did rather well.

    But they were all usurpers to the rightful claim to the English throne of the House of Clarence-York aka Yorkist.

  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 1,145
    Liam, are you going to re-fight the Hundred-Years War?
  • How can we get this thread back on its original topic?
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,430
    MJO: The comment about Oscar Wilde is true I believe.

  • What a wretched idea, to take a beautiful real Cathedral, and transmogrify it to a place where atheists and Disney-worshippers will feel comfortable in their errors.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • I had originally read that some had proposed a chic garden and the equivalent of Starbucks in place of the roof - and other such outlandish ideas. Then I breathed easily when I read that President Macron had decided to rebuild it faithfully to its original shape

    Then, I recently read that the interior was is to be scattered with a variety of display and conversational spots here and there.

    What would one expect of people who built a glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre, and who have banned God (as has the EU) from the national forum and identity. After all, they are not ashamed to have committed regicide - so why shouldn't they commit Deicide as well? -

    Somehow this doesn't keep me from being a Francophile. After all, is there a more beautiful, perfectly proportioned house in all the wold as Vaux-le-Vicompt. (And the most hideous public building in all the world, the centre pompidou - which looks like the brightly painted boiler room in a ship like the Titanic). They gave us astonishing music from Titelouze to Corrette. Superb architecture everywhere one looks, and the French have an unique gift for proportion and impeccable taste and style. Their cuisine has no peer. Their poets, if not Shakespeare, are certainly worthy of place in the western literary canon. And, they produced countless saints and have remarkable organs, old and new. And they gave us the Franco-Flemish polyphonic school. Then, what country can claim to have the L' Academie Francaise to keep French French?

  • Am I the only one who has often thought that the two west towers look incomplete without spires? Were they ever intended? They must have been.

    I'm uber late to this party, but I can confirm: spires WERE intended. One documentary I watched about ND years ago talked all about it and even showed what it was originally intended to look like. It was akin to how Cologne looks now just with the particularities of ND's facade underneath.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • What would one expect of people who built a glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre, and who have banned God (as has the EU) from the national forum and identity. After all, they are not ashamed to have committed regicide - so why shouldn't they commit Deicide as well? -
    Somehow this doesn't keep me from being a Francophile.)

    I can relate to all of this. I did my study abroad in Paris and it was the period of greatest joy in my life. Paris (and France writ large) is a magical place to be. But it is also terrifying to ponder how much of their modern society is the direct result of the revolution and terrifyingly militant atheism. And the clash of ancient and modern is scarcely more obvious than when you consider that the Centre Pompidou is only a stone's throw from a number of medieval churches. How the two coexist so peacefully is truly a marvel. Same for the Louvre and that wretched pyramid.

    One cannot dawn anything religious in public— even a priest or nun brought in to a college specifically to teach a religious studies course cannot so much as wear a pectoral cross larger than the size of a dime. Absolutely no clerics. It is horrendous. The 'eldest daughter of the church' has spurned her Father and treated Him very poorly—a particular pity considering how much she has been blessed by Him.

    I was once practicing organ at a church in paris and a man came up into the tribune and railed into me. I gingerly explained to him that I had been given permission to practice there by the organiste titulaire, and that I was using the softest stops on the organ to not bother anyone. The mere fact that I even bothered to respond anything other than, "I will go die, sir." positively incensed the man and he became flushed in the face and really yelled at me.

    Here's where it gets funny:

    I only knew the word "prêtre" for priest.

    This man came up to me and said with immediate bite in his voice, "I don't care what HE told you, I AM THE CURÉ!" Well, my poor little pea brain interpreted "curé" as "curator" a.k.a. "janitor" or "custodian". I once again apologized, said I would leave, but I was confused, because I had been given permission to be there. When I recounted the story to the organist, he laughed out loud and said, "the curé?! didn't you realize: he's the priest!" Well, no, I didn't realize I was being yelled at by the priest, because I didn't know the term "curé" (at that time I had only heard of St. John Vianney as... St. John Vianney, not the "Curé d'Ars") and because the man showed absolutely no outward sign that he was a priest. He looked like any old joe-schmoe. He didn't even so much as have a miraculous medal on, let alone a cross... let alone a collar... he didn't even have one of those trendy collard shirts with jeans. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. This was my first personal introduction to a french cleric, and it was a doozy, and I can remember this exchange like it happened yesterday, and this was a decade ago.

    This all could have been avoided if the man had dressed like a damn priest.
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,620
    The good news, the fabric etc. is being restored to the novel design of Viollet-le-Duc, with some restoration of the mediaeval remains.
    Bad news, the fire risk forest is going back above the vaults.
    Good news, the french union of woodworkers, and the owners of the large oak forests around Paris have a key use for a few years.
    Bad news, the cathedral has been stolen by the vile republic...
    Good news, the vile republic has prevented so far the equally vile new iconoclasts from totally wrecking the interior.
    Bad news, the diocese of Paris appears to have lost the Faith, with its Archbishop.
    Good news, the vile republic treats all the cathedrals as museums first and so their preservation is assured until the time comes when the Catholic Church will reclaim its property.
    Bad news, just as the other cathedrals in France (I have visited) have shops, museum displays, various ugly modern sculptures, various vacuous light displays, and a dusty and disused High altar and choir, Notre Dame will be no different.
    Good news, the new interior will be the usual empty and uninspiring nonsense, that shows that modern secularist society has no clothes. So the ground will remain waiting for the seed of the Faith to burst forth, grow and take over from the barren modern society.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,898
    I am a great fan of French religious art, buildings, organs, and music. I would hate to see that cathedral wrecked by designers. But I wonder how much real faith is left there, at least in the major cities. A friend who travelled much to Europe tells me that if you get into the countryside, religion still exists but not so much in the cities. There is an old story that one of the mystics foretold that at the last judgment, France would be scorched to the ground for all the errors that have originated there.
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • I am a great fan of French religious art, buildings, organs, and music. I would hate to see that cathedral wrecked by designers. But I wonder how much real faith is left there, at least in the major cities.

    Allow me to recount my own experience:
    When I told my host mother the first weekend after my arrival that I was going to Mass, she looked at me like I had suddenly sprouted horns and said with genuine surprise, bordering exasperation, "tu vais aller à la Messe?!" ("you're going to Mass?!") .....ouais....

    I went to Mass at St. Sulpice multiple times. I was one of only 30 people there, and the only one who knelt during the consecration (and I received an odd glance or two for doing so). This church is only a few square feet smaller than Notre Dame (and is the current stand in cathedral) and is in the heart of the city. This is also the motherhouse for a religious order. (I believe the sulpicians are still a thing anyway.) Crickets, but wonderful music from Daniel Roth. The french organ mass is quite a wonder to behold.

    I went to Mass at St. Louis en Îlse Christmas morning and was one of 20? This is literally the heart of Paris—the opposite island from ND.

    I also went to a large Christmas vigil Mass at St. Clotilde (Franck's parish) that was even being televised. I was one of, perhaps, 80? You could easily fit 1500 people in that church with plenty of room to spare. I had laid a rose at Our Lady's feet and a camera man summarily walked up and moved it so it wouldn't be seen. A single rose for our Rose on the feast of Her motherhood, and this was not permitted.

    It was all incredibly disheartening.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,171
    On the other hand, I went to Mass in Lisieux and Caen and the places were packed. The Parisian churches are empty with the exception of ND de P and St. Nicholas du Chardonnet and St. Eugene. The trad churches are generally packed. That's where the real Church life is in France.
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 1,005
    What would one expect of people who built a glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre, and who have banned God (as has the EU) from the national forum and identity.

    Actually, it's not the French government, but the archdiocese of Paris that wants the changes to the interior:
  • The trad churches are generally packed. That's where the real Church life is in France.

    French Catholics are like the little girl avec la curl dans the middle of the foreheard. When they're good, they are very very good, but when they're bad . . . they're bishops.
  • IdeK
    Posts: 87
    As a French woman who grew up in Paris and left it only two years ago, I must say all of you who see Paris as a a place more dechristianized than the rest of France are quite wrong. It is in fact the reverse.

    The parish where I grew up, Saint François de Sales, was so packed at Christmas until at least 2010 that they had to have four or five masses on Christmas Eve, some of them at 15' spaces in the two different churches, so everyone could fit in. Lots of parishes in the western part of the city have several masses on Christmas Eve because only one would not suffice.

    However it is true that no one goes to mass on Christmas day in Paris : most people go to mass on Christmas Eve and not on Christmas day - the Midnight mass hasn't that much attendance either, the masses with big attendance are usually around 6:30 and 8:30. After that, people are actually eating the réveillon, which is the source and summit of French cuisine (don't get me started on that). They will eat until late in the night... And not be fitted to go to mass in the morning. Besides, there might be another feast (meal) on Christmas Day (with the in-laws, say).

    One other thing : TV masses in France are a pain in the ass. The TV team comes to any parish and knows better than the parish how to do things and stuff. The hymns might not be the ones the people are used to. I'm not surprised at your rose story, at all. Well, since those masses are usually announced several weeks ahead, parishioners might flee to another place they like. Thus you might have less people for the TV mass than it is normal.

    Moreover, the places you seem to have gone are, well, not where I would have taken someone to show them the vitality of the Church in Paris. Saint Louis en l'Ile is on the Ile Saint Louis, a place where nobody lives because it's too expensive. There are only offices there. Same goes for Sainte-Clotilde, which was built bigger than needed for political reasons back in the time when it was the parish of the wealthy, aristocratic right-wing (monarchist) families. Due to the rise of the real estate prices, to more or less stupid economic choices ("the aristocracy don't work !") and to the high french succession taxes, most of those families left in the second half of the 20th century. There are only prestige offices in that area nowadays.

    If I wanted to show you vibrant parishes, I would definitely not go to the center of Paris but to the peripheral arrondissements : 17th, 15th... I remember nearly collapsing on a July Sunday evening (during the summer holidays) in the packed church in Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Grenelle, because it was so packed and hot on a hot wave day. The parish of my childhood still has seven masses every weekend, that's not to scatter 80 parishioners. The parish of my parents has five, which is normal for a Parisian parish, at least in their area. The trad churches that are packed are actually in the same kind of places : Sainte Odile is in the 17th arrondissement, just near my childhood parish, Notre-Dame du Lys is in the 15th arrondissement not far from where I lived as a student (and the non trad churches were packed too), Saint Eugene is in the 9th arrondissement but has people coming from all the eastern part of Paris where there is no Latin mass, and La Trinité not far away is a non-trad church and quite packed, especially the Sunday evening mass.

    Saint Nicolas du Chardonnet is the only big church of the SSPX in Paris (they do have a smaller one but it's quite small) and has people coming from very far away, so that is quite different from the 106 parish geographical répartition in Paris.

    Lisieux isn't anymore representative of the normal rural France than Guadalupe is of Mexico. It is a very much beloved place of pilgrimage, and those places are often very dynamic in France. As for Caen I couldn't tell, but it is not rural by French standards : it is a mid-sized city.

    I live now in such a place, and believe me : coming from Paris, you actually feel that you leave a spiritual oasis for the desert. The really rural areas are even worse.