“The storm will break over
France where I wanted to show the prodigies of My
Divine Heart and unveil its secrets. My children, France
will be the “first to be wounded, torn, persecuted.”
( Marie-Julie Jahenny, June 1882)
France is the eldest daughter of the Church and Jesus has a special Love for her. She was chosen to reveal the treasures of His most Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. Another special saint – St Catherine Laboure from France was chosen to bring to the world the Miraculous Medal.
The title of ‘eldest daughter of the Church’ stems from the fact that France was the first entirely Christian nation. This occurred after the conversion of King Clovis in the 6th century. Her status as ‘daughter of the Church’ was due to the unique status of Frankish kings being anointed and crowned by bishops, which was not a standard thing for a barbaric king back then.
Notre Dame is the icon of Christendom. It is 800 years old and took 200 years to build. It was the pride of the French nation and all its people; regardless of whether or not they were Catholic. Indeed it symbolised the historic beauty, and timeless treasure that is the Church itself.
The name, Notre Dame, means “Our Lady”. Our Lady is the Mother of the Church. The tragic fire was not only an attack on the Church but on our Blessed Mother. The demise of the cathedral of Notre Dame is symbolic of the Church being attacked and falling into ruins. Our Lady- “Notre Dame” – is asking us to take notice of the destruction of the Church – the Mystical Body of her Son.
The fact that it happened during Holy Week is especially symbolic. Jesus was betrayed, falsely accused, scourged, mocked, persecuted, suffered, attacked, mocked, stripped and crucified. This is happening to the Mystical Body of Christ today, once again.
The symbolism inherent in the destruction of Notre Dame gives us much to meditate upon:
- the hierarchical structure, with its priests and bishops; toppling
- the teachings of Christ which are being reinterpreted – marriage and sexuality; conversion versus all religions lead us to God;
- the inhabitants of France that once possessed this beautiful church, helplessly knelt outside on their knees in prayer and solemnity; watching the fire destroy their most precious possession, moved to tears
- special treasures were saved – the Blessed Sacrament; the high altar; the crown of thorns, the Cross; the medieval statue of the Madonna and Child; the Rose stained-glass window, the organ and many precious pieces of art.
- there was a brave priest, who ignored the danger, who ran into the midst of the fiery destruction and saved what was precious and holy.
- The spire, which rose high into the heavens – is no more. The building is largely destroyed. Similarly, the teachings, liturgy and prayer have been attacked so that these holy things can no more reach to the heavens.
We will need many brave priests such as Fr. Fournier, in the future. In fact we must pray for all the brave priests who are persecuted because they stand up for the true teachings of the Church and its true (spiritual) treasures
The gates of hell will not prevail. The church in the future will be a much smaller church, but the true teachings and liturgy that give praise and honour to God will be preserved.
To conclude- an excerpt from “ The fire of Notre Dame is a “religious” event (English translation from the French):
“ Notre Dame de Paris was above all an expression of the love of a faithful people for their God and for the Mother of God, an immense sign rising in the heart of the city. How could she remain standing except as an empty shell, if love should fail? Is not this what God meant to men by letting this tragedy happen?”