Notre Dame Cathedral in flames, far reaching effects


Janelle Bellamy

The 2018 Europe interim trip at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.

The flames that engulfed the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday, April 15, have far reaching effects, even to this community. Bishop David J. Walkowiak of the Diocese of Grand Rapids commented in a statement to the general press, Everybody feels a sense of loss at this church.”

Calvin College historian and medievalist Professor Frans van Liere remembers the cathedral, saying “To hear the organ in that magnificent space always lifted my heart.”

Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris has long been a symbol of the church in France. During Holy Week, leading up to Easter, the Catholic church in particular feels the loss of this landmark. Walkowiak said “To have the…heart of French Catholicism just wiped out at this time is especially a cruel fate.”

The fire, which has been deemed an accident, began after open hours at 6:50 pm. The blaze engulfed one of the iconic rectangular towers and collapsed the spire. A large hole has been burned through the roof of the cathedral, but cherished statues, the crown of thorns, and the rose window have all survived. Van Liere said “This fire reminds us how fragile these historic buildings are.”

Many Calvin students have visited the Cathedral of Notre Dame on trips with Calvin and on their own. “It is going to be a little different”, said sophomore Diederick Reitsma, who will be studying in France next semester. “I’ll probably still go see it in the end.”

Van Liere encourages us “What can we do at Calvin? Pray, in this holy week, for the Diocese of Paris and the Christians who are affected by this loss.”

Jacob Baylor
The nave of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.