By Montana Hall
Although no breath is drawn, no veins flow with blood, nor does skin encase muscle and bone, the Notre-Dame cathedral is known to Parisians as a monument with an honorary heartbeat.
With morality ingrained into every aspect of its structure, it is no wonder that there are plans for this virtuous monument to be rebuilt in the same splendour in which it was created. If humanity has gained one thing from history’s harsh learning curves, it’s that protecting a form of beauty, sanctity, and holiness is a way to preserve this world’s balance of yin and yang.
Many people know the famed history of the Notre-Dame cathedral, but here are five facts that may come as a surprise:
Legend Tells All
Swinging on beautifully crafted hinges, the doors of Notre-Dame are tale-tellers of their own. Biscornette, the hinge-designer, is rumoured to have been absent during the time his construction took place. It has been said his ghostly presence suggests a rendezvous with the devil that brought the intricate wrought iron designs into being.
Until recently, the conundrum of their creation method has baffled even the most brilliant of designers. With the release of the 2018 self-narrated documentary, “The Devil’s Blacksmith,” the ironwork technique has finally been made public.
The numerous gargoyles adorning Notre-Dame are famed icons of the cathedral’s gothic architecture. On a metaphysical level, the grotesque stone statues are adept at warding off evil and ghouls.
However, their main purpose is synonymous with gutters–redirecting rainwater that then pours into the mouths of the gargling gargoyles. Chimaeras, too, adorn the cathedral. While the gargoyles serve a practical purpose, the chimaeras are purely decorative in their own medieval way.
Joan of Arc’s heritage interlinks with that of Notre-Dame, to the time when she was finally recognised as a martyr. While we know she was burnt at the stake on accusations of heresy and witchcraft at just 19 years of age, lesser known is that there were many attempts after her death to clear her name.
It was only a couple of decades later that her mother’s and brother’s request was finally heard and the Pope re-examined her case. Unfortunately for Ms. Arc, the judgment was considered null and thus discarded, but the verdict was decidedly too late. Her ivory stone replica stands within the saintly enclosure of Notre-Dame where it is rumoured her beatification took place; however, it is also said that same occasion occurred at St Peter’s Church in Rome.
In the midst of a worldwide terror where countries were folding their cards to Nazi Germany, a rumour spread. The whispers warned that German soldiers were preparing to poach and destroy the new stained-glass windows of Notre-Dame.
These intricately designed kaleidoscopes that depicted biblical scripture and learnings were removed and hidden for preservation before anyone could touch their patterned array. The stained-glass windows are wonders in the famous cathedral as they have avoided thievery and withstood the recent scorching flames.
Their resilience is attributed to the manufacturing process. Sarah Brown, director of York Glaziers Trust, explains their preservation through their process of creation. “Stained glass, of course, is made in heat. The glass is manufactured in heat and the painted surface is fused to the glass in a kiln so it can be surprisingly robust and resistant to fire.”
Semblance Of Solace
The timing couldn’t be more aligned for Disney to reproduce yet another of its animated films. Although it has not yet been cast, Disney’s Hunchback of Notre-Dame is set to return to cinemas as a live-action remake with the single-word title, Hunchback. It will likely base the storyline on both the 1996 animation and Victor Hugo’s novel combined. Our favourite hero and the dazzling Esmerelda would no doubt be wrapped up in the contradictory happenings of today; mourning the fragments of the old Notre-Dame while simultaneously welcoming in a new dawn and its rebirth. While the world hatches a plan to revive the remnants of Paris’ heartbeat, people are seeking solace and remembrance through the tale of Hugo’s hunch-backed protagonist, Quasimodo.
In efforts to prepare for its revival, French president, Macron is spearheading the international fundraising campaign of restoration where plenty of assistance has already been seen. Help and pledges are being sent in from other countries, well-known companies, and private families. To date, they have raised nearly $1 billion USD. It is soothing to note that throughout the centuries Notre-Dame has withstood the eternal flames of warfare and tragedies and will now be resurrected anew, like a phoenix rising from the fiery blaze.