This new jumble of Notre-Dame speaks of a Christianity that has lost confidence in itself
When famous architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc set out to rebuild the cathedral in the mid-19th century, at the height of the Romantic movement, he not only restored what had been damaged, but added things – including the spire, new gargoyles. and chimeras. Nevertheless, the Duke remained faithful to the original medieval Christian ethics. He sought to go back.
These plans are a dramatic break with the past and, as such, are more in line with the Pope’s mission to modernize the Church. It should be noted that the last exhibition in the chapel will focus on the environment, a particular obsession of Pope Francis.
This overhaul signals a change in the way many members of the Catholic elite perceive their status. Understanding of faith cannot be taken for granted, they suppose.
They might be right, after all, in the aftermath of the fire a notorious headline read “Our Lady’s Tourism Mecca Also Venerated As A Place of Worship”. If French society is indeed post-Christian, why not treat visitors like children in an exhibition?
The answer will come that it is inappropriate to do so in this historic building; that he breaks a promise to restore rather than re-imagine; that the consultation was insufficient; and that this movement neglects the power of Christianity to evangelize by example, that it is precisely the daily functioning of Catholicism, with its prayer and its mystery, that attracts newcomers to it.
What is needed is to revive the worship of Notre-Dame. In panic, some powerful have opted for a museum.
Tim Stanley’s book, What happened to the tradition? History, belonging and future of the West, is now available.