Sun, 07 Jun 2020

Notre Dame: Center of Celebration, Mourning, Evolution of France

Voice of America
18 Apr 2019, 16:07 GMT+10

The cathedral Notre Dame de Paris (or Our Lady of Paris, dedicated to the Virgin Mary) has seen a long string of history-making events in its 850-year history.

1163: The cornerstone of the cathedral is laid on the site of an earlier church, and likely a Gallo-Roman temple before that. Bishop of Paris Maurice de Sully is the driving force of the new church. French King Louis VII and Pope Alexander III attend the ceremony.

1231: King Louis IX places in the cathedral a crown of thorns believed to have been worn by Jesus during the crucifixion.

1345: Most of the basic elements of the cathedral have been finished, including both towers and the rose windows, but the cathedral continues to evolve over the next six centuries.

1431: King Henry VI of England is crowned King of France in the cathedral.

1455: The mother of Joan of Arc petitions a papal delegation to overturn her daughters conviction for heresy.

1537: James V of Scotland marries Madeleine of Valois, daughter of King Francis I of France, in the cathedral.

1548: French Protestants (Huguenots) raid the cathedral and damage sculptures they deem idolatrous.

1558: James Vs daughter, Mary Queen of Scots, marries Dauphin Francis, who becomes King Francis II.

1793: The cathedral is dedicated by French revolutionists to the Cult (Church) of Reason. Many of the cathedrals treasures are taken or destroyed.

1801: New ruler Napoleon signs an agreement to return Notre Dame to the Catholic Church.

1804: Napoleon and wife Josephine are crowned Emperor and Empress of France. Pope Pius VII presides over the ceremony.

1810: Napoleon marries his second wife, Marie-Louise of Austria, at Notre Dame.

1831: Victor Hugo publishes his novel, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. The book highlights the fact that the cathedral is in disrepair.

1844: King Louis Philippe orders the restoration of the cathedral. The spire is replaced and gargoyles are added.

1900: Composer Louis Vierne is appointed the organist of Notre Dame. He serves for 37 years. He dies suddenly while playing a recital at the great organ. It is exactly how he said he wanted to die.

1909: Joan of Arc is beatified by Pope Pius X.

1971: High-wire artist Philippe Petit gives a tightrope performance on a cable suspended between Notre Dames two towers.

1980: Pope John Paul II celebrates Mass on the parvis of the cathedral.

2013: New bells, made from melted-down 19th-century bells, are installed in the bell towers.

2016 and 2017: Police foil plans to stage attacks at the cathedral.

2019: Fire destroys the spire and roof, but much of the structure and many of its treasures are saved.

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