Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is one of the oldest and most revered landmarks of the Western world.
Completed in 1345 after almost 200 years of construction, the cathedral is a monument to both the Christian faith and the history of Europe.
But after the fire of April 16, 2019, the restoration of the medieval wonder may be taking a sad 21st-century twist.
The Telegraph reported this week that instead of returning Notre Dame to its original glory, officials are considering a proposal to modernize the interior.
Modern art and sound and light effects would replace classical sculptures, confessional boxes and altars to give the cathedral “emotional spaces.”
There would also be a “discovery trail” of 14 chapels emphasizing Asia and Africa. Biblical quotes would be projected on the walls in different languages.
The final chapel would be dedicated to “reconciled creation” — i.e., environmentalism.
One source familiar with the renovation harshly criticized the plans.
“Can you imagine the administration of the Holy See allowing something like this in the Sistine Chapel?” the source said. “It would be unimaginable. We are not in an empty space here.
“This is political correctness gone mad. They want to turn Notre Dame into an experimental liturgical showroom that exists nowhere else whereas it should be a landmark where the slightest change must be handled with great care.”
That is correct. Notre Dame is not just a venue to be redecorated according to the latest fashions. It is a historic and sacred place of worship.
To disregard its original design would be to throw out the history of generations and deface a work of art. Some of the greatest architects in history had a hand in building and restoring Notre Dame. Altering their work would be like spray-painting a Michelangelo.
Maurice Culot, a highly regarded French architect, has seen the plans and was disgusted.
“It’s as if Disney were entering Notre Dame,” he said. “What they are proposing to do to Notre Dame would never be done to Westminster Abbey or Saint Peter’s in Rome. It’s a kind of theme park and very childish and trivial given the grandeur of the place.”
But the push to modernize the cathedral is strong.
In June, Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris said the interior changes would “bring the cathedral into the 21st century while preserving its own identity in the spirit of the Christian tradition.”
On top of that, the French government is in a hurry to have the restoration complete, according to another report from the Telegraph. President Emmanuel Macron wants to reopen the cathedral in 2024, the year the Olympics will be hosted in Paris.
Culot would like to see the restoration done “in the spirit of the original and not in a sort of ridiculous rupture that will go out of fashion in three years.” He noted that even the modern architects who restored Notre Dame in the past were careful to honor its history.
The Telegraph reported that there is skepticism about the modern designs among members of the committee overseeing the restoration. Hopefully, they will stop the proposal in its tracks and give back to the world one of its most iconic treasures.
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