In my bedroom I have a small crucifix, an inexpensive plastic and pot metal tourist affair my parents bought for me at my request when I was five years old. We bought it at the little souvenir shop in Notre Dame during our first, but not our last, visit to that incomparable tribute to the glory of God. One of the greatest and oldest symbols of man’s faith and yearning, a building started almost nine-hundred-years ago and completed almost eight-hundred-years ago, with some of the most spectacular stained-glass windows and some of the most exquisitely glorious bells in the world, filled with irreplaceable art, a history that includes the coronations of Henry VI and Napoleon, the marriages of both James V of Scotland and later Mary, Queen of Scots to the Dauphin who became Francis II of France, a building that survived time, riots, Huguenot and secular abuse, as well as two world wars and the Nazis, that building is no more.
I watched the unspeakable devastation with the same heartache and horror with which I watched the attack on the Twin Towers on 9/11. That this tragedy should have occurred at all is a loss that makes me sick to my stomach; that it should have occurred during Holy Week is incomprehensible. It is not just France’s loss, or the Catholic Church’s loss, or even Christianity’s loss; it is the world’s loss, but my heart and my deepest sympathies go out to France and the French people.
The bells of Notre Dame were rung in sympathy for the American people after the evil of the 9/11 Twin Towers attack. If I could play The Marseilles, I would.