I decided this beautiful cathedral needed a post of its very own. For 850 years the Cathedral of Notre Dame has stood tall in dedication to the Blessed Mother, through times of feast and famine and times of peace and war. She has been a symbol of faith and Christianity, a place of worship and hope. Not the oldest nor largest cathedral but perhaps the best known and for many an enduring sign of God’s presence.
For the architecture buffs out there the Cathedral of Notre Dame is a fine example of Gothic architecture with flying buttresses. If you ever wondered what those were, come to Paris to see them in their finest glory. The outside of the cathedral is detailed with gargoyles to ward off evil spirits plus many scenes from the Bible to help teach Christianity to those who could not read. When Lance and I visited Paris in 2004 there were large banners displayed in the square outside Notre Dame with scenes from the German occupation during WWII. It was quite surprising to see Hitler standing proud in front of the cathedral with armored tanks along side. Today there is a grandstand in front of the cathedral to provide seating for tourist and for the upcoming 850th anniversary celebration.
When I visit a place I have heard so much about I always walk in not quite knowing what to expect. Visitors to Notre Dame enter from a side door and are allowed to walk around the outer edge of the church interior. The center is reserved for those attending Mass. It was darker inside than I expected and on my first visit I was not so sure I really liked it. When Lance and I attended Mass tourists continued to roam around the interior taking pictures. That didn’t feel quite right to me. This visit, I took more time to enjoy the beautiful stained glass windows, the artwork and the side altars. There is a peacefulness as you absorb the history and importance of this place. King Henry the VI was crowned here as was Napoleon. The 8000 pipes of the grand organ in this church can still make the walls shake with the power of its music.
In one area of the church was a large nativity scene which showed an entire village, many houses and shelters with just one safely nestling a special couple and their newborn. It was an interesting representation. Sometimes we can miss the most important details amongst the busyness of life.
(Click on any photo to enlarge.)