Paris III: The Bells of Notre Dame

NOTRE DAME

“Who is the monster and who is the man? What makes a monster and what makes a man?”-Disney’s Hunckback of Notre Dame

Notre Dame triumphantly stood with the blue sky and shinning sun to complement it. The famous cathedral and iconic French symbol is an awe-inspiring sight. Just the architectural features and details on the outside of the church could keep any visitor there for days. What craftsmanship! The construction for this amazing architectural feat began in 1163 and was finally completed in 1345. It is named in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Notre Dame-French for “Our Lady”). As if its beauty wasn’t enough for it to be an icon, it’s fame also derive’s from Victor Hugo’s classic novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Disney eventually produced a movie with the same name in 1996. Additionally it stands as an exemplary example of Gothic architecture with its famous flying buttresses and gargoyles. The cathedral was buzzing outside with pilgrims and tourists taking pictures and offering prayers. Flower pedals were floating in the wind as boats cruised by on the Seine River. How ironic that it sits right beside the Seine as the cathedral provides the everlasting water of life.

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We briefly waited in a long line to go in. While in line we heard the magnificent bells ring its mighty song. We walked in and immediately the sacredness of the place could be felt. It was dark yet with flickering candles and the sunlight coming through the meticulous stain glass windows provided enough light. There was a slight scent of incense and because Mass was being offered the organ could be heard every now and again. The high ceiling, rose windows, and many side altars made it feel like we were transported to a different time. People were walking up and down the aisle, lighting candles, and saying prayers. I myself did the obligatory act of lighting a few candles and walked around the church’s entirety.

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Beauty. Awe-inspiring. Sacred. That is Notre Dame. After all isn’t that the purpose of religious art and architecture? To evoke an inward beauty and to bring our minds to higher things. Unfortunately beautiful religious architecture and architecture in general has been slacking in the recent years by the more “modern” (in my opinion ugly) architecture. Fortunately Notre Dame isn’t going anywhere and stands as a fine example of the power architecture and art can evoke in people. Notre Dame de Paris,  ora pro nobis!

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