Friday, December 28, 2012

Notre Dame

When I was a nineteen year old backpacker I stayed in a hostel for Asian and African students in Paris -- it's a long story, ask me sometime! One evening I walked to Notre Dame Cathedral with a thoroughly disagreeable Brit -- it's a long story, ask me sometime!-- where we took in a organ recital.

I have been back to the cathedral a couple of times, including about thirty years after my first visit as  I was on my way back to Canada from the Taize Christian community. I stayed in a truly grotty little hotel called the Esmeralda, just across the Seine River from the magnificent church. The only charming aspect of this abode was the name. You may remember that Esmeralda was the beauty to the Hunchback's beast in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

The cathedral is awe-inspiring, one of the greatest examples of Gothic architecture, although like many cathedrals it's construction began long before the true flowering of that style.

PARIS -- Dignitaries, tourists and Parisians gathered in the thousands Wednesday for a ceremony and Mass marking the beginning of year-long commemoration of Notre Dame Cathedral's 850th anniversary.
The 12th-century Gothic cathedral looming over the heart of the French capital will get a set of new bells in February, one of the highlights of a year's worth of planned events including seminars, concerts of sacred music and the issuance of commemorative stamps.
Archbishop Andre Vingt-Trois and Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe are among the civil and religious dignitaries taking part in Wednesday evening events marking the beginning of the cathedral's construction in 1163.
Notre Dame's new bells will go on display in February and are scheduled to be rung for the first time on March 23, 2013.

Have you been to Notre Dame? Have you experienced other cathedrals? Awe-inspiring, or leave you cold?


IanD said...

I haven't been to Notre Dame (or France) but my 2003 trip to England included tours of St. James and Westminster Abbey. Both of those sacred places knocked my socks off.

I also remember reading the Hunchback on breaks from pumping gas in Newcastle the summer after my first year of university. It took me all summer, but it really helped the time fly.

Nancy said...

I have been to Notre Dame in France and loved it! My first experience was as a young 20 something student. I was awestruck, however by then had seen so many other cathedrals that I didn't appreciate it to its fullest. It wasn't until I returned with my husband years later that I spent time in the cathedral and appreciated it to its fullest. Our hotel was near the cathedral and since our hotel room was so tiny we could not both get ready at the same time. So, every morning, Joe would head out to Notre Dame while I got ready and then we would meet up at the cathedral. One day we had the opportunity to hear the organ, and wow!

roger said...

We went to Paris last summer(where we got engaged) and visited Notre Dame. We didn't make it to the top, as the line was too long, but it definitely was awe-inspiring inside.

There are so many amazing cathedrals in Europe, and what amazes me is that these were built hundreds of years ago. We visited one in Paris that was built in the 11th century. Such incredible structures built so long ago.

willowjakmom said...

I have to admit that after my trips to Europe and Great Britain, the cathedrals did not leave much of an impression on me. This was likely due to the company I shared and the limited time I had.

My appreciation for the awe that is held for these incredible places of worship comes from my reading of Ken Follet's 'Pillars of the Earth' (a favourite of mine). That story gave me a better understanding for the life-long work, effort and care that was put into the creation of these structures.

Nancy said...

Nice piece but the sanctuary pictured is Notre Dame in Montreal, not Paris. Trust me. I've been fortunate to have spent time in both. J.

David Mundy said...

You are so right Joe. Thanks for pointing this out! Thanks all for your responses.