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The Tragedy of Notre-Dame de Paris


I’ll never forget the primary time I noticed Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. It was the late ‘80s and my first journey to France. My French grandfather, Georges Lycan, had just picked us up from Orly and was giving us a flyby tour of Paris on our approach to his country house in the Loire Valley. It was a shocking website of both intimidating grandeur and breathtaking beauty.

Because the years glided by, I started traveling around France alone and enjoyed visiting Notre-Dame several extra occasions. I ultimately went to high school in France on the Universite Catholique de l’Ouest and enjoyed the beautiful sites around the country. But Notre-Dame remained at the prime. I beloved going back to Paris, getting off on the Saint-Michel Notre-Dame metro stop, strolling east on Quai Saint-Michel, crossing Pont de Coeurs onto Ile de la Cite, and there they have been; the towering, 226-ft tall towers.

I discovered to appreciate the cathedral extra as I developed an eye fixed for detail. The statued-portals at the entrance. The towering rib-vaulted ceilings. The nave. The beautiful, stained-glass rose home windows. The spire above the apse. The flying buttresses. The architectural genius of all of it. And of course, the hundreds of gargoyles. As a French citizen, I, along with many, felt that Notre-Dame was a wealthy half of our heritage. For sure, the burning of the cathedral on Monday was a tragedy.

Nevertheless, as tragic as the hearth of this great structure was, there’s a higher tragedy regarding Notre-Dame de Paris.

Notre-Dame’s historical past is fascinating. Data indicate that it was built upon a number of other church buildings and non secular buildings courting again to historic Roman paganism. Development of Notre-Dame de Paris then started in 1163, in the course of the glory days of Roman Catholicism, beneath the supervision of Bishop Maurice de Sully, who succeeded Peter Lombard in the episcopal see of Paris. The cathedral, whose identify means, “Our Lady,” is taken into account “more than a historical monument, but “above all, the House of God,” and a “high place of Christendom.”

In the aftermath of the hearth, many non-Catholics have praised the structure as a logo of historical past and tradition, paying no heed to its spiritual significance. Nevertheless, those that oversaw its development and proceed to supervise its ecclesiastics, together with trustworthy Roman Catholics as we speak, perceive that nothing could possibly be farther from the truth. Notre-Dame de Paris is, and was, by no means meant to be a spiritually-religiously neutral construction. As an alternative, it preaches and promotes all the necessities of Roman theology. And therein lies its larger tragedy.

Notre-Dame is riddled with beautiful artistry. Unique designers had good cause for it: most who entered the medieval construction for Roman Catholic Mass have been illiterate. They might not learn the word of God for themselves. Thus, the work, carvings, and reliefs have been meant to preach what Rome holds as absolute fact. Sadly, nevertheless, much error and heresy is preached therefrom. It will be unimaginable to catalogue each instance of Notre-Dame’s theology-through-art. Listed here are a couple of.

1. The Tragedy of Notre-Dame’s Gospel

As you enter the cathedral, entrance and middle is what’s referred to as the “Portal of the Last Judgement.” Development here started about 1230 and options Jesus in the middle, with Mary, angels, and doubtless the apostle John surrounding. Mary and John are stated to be praying for the lost souls. As you progress down, there’s the angel Michael weighing souls in a scale with Satan standing by. If the “life they have waged on earth” is sufficient, and the scales tip, they do not go to hell. If not, they do (featured by a goulish-looking demon leading the damned away). Under that, the physically lifeless are being raised for their judgment. Surrounding the scene are angels and saints who made it to heaven. Christ is there. But so are these scales.

So, should you have been a mean French guy in medieval occasions, you’d proceed completely exhausted from frequent illness, strenuous guide labor, and superstitious life to Mass every week, unable to learn or perceive Latin. As you appeared up at the portal, you have been confronted with Michael, demons, and the scales. Sadly, this coincides properly with the false, works-based gospel of Roman Catholicism.

From the Council of Trent, 6th session, Canon 30:

If anyone says that after the reception of the grace of justification the guilt is so remitted and the debt of eternal punishment so blotted out to every repentant sinner, that no debt of momentary punishment remains to be discharged both in this world or in purgatory earlier than the gates of heaven could be opened, let him be anathema.

In other words, when you consider that, by religion alone in Christ alone, all of your sin—past, current, future—is totally forgiven, with no guilt or punishment from God remaining, with the end result that you simply stand permanently righteous earlier than God, then you’re damned. The only people stated to be in heaven for sure in Rome’s theology are the saints.

Nevertheless, Scripture affirms exactly what
Rome condemns:

“For we keep that a man is
justified by faith aside from works of the Regulation” (Rom.

“Subsequently, having been justified by
faith, we’ve got peace with God via our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom.

Right standing with God is a gift granted on the idea of religion alone in Jesus Christ. Sinners stand permanently righteous before holy God as a gift of his grace, not works, and by faith alone in Jesus Christ, not grace-infused works (Eph. 2:8-9).

2. The Tragedy of Notre-Dame’s Mass

Mass is central to Rome, as the Eucharist is a crucial, justification-furthering sacrament in Roman Catholicism. At Notre-Dame, Mass is held about 4 occasions per day Monday by way of Saturday, and six occasions on Sunday. For the trustworthy Catholic, Mass is a highlight of visiting the cathedral.

As you walk into the cathedral, it’s clear what the central focus is; the altar. And you’ll not see a pulpit front-and-center. Only the altar. Notre-Dame’s altar is a shocking, but provocative, website. First, there’s the marble rectanglur platform, about twenty-feet long, almost four-feet tall, with golden carvings across the base. But what really grabs the attention is the large carving just behind and above the altar. On a raised platform is a few ten-foot-tall carving of Mary, seated, eyes to heaven, arms out, with the lifeless physique of Jesus in her lap, surrounded by angels. That is middle, and what irresistibly grabs the eye. It’s meant to be the primary attraction at Notre-Dame de Paris.

The statues have major theological significance. Jesus’s large lifeless physique towers over the large altar. Why? Because that’s what Rome teaches happens at every Mass; the necessity to perpetually sacrifice Jesus:

“As often as the sacrifice of the Cross by which our Pasch has been sacrificed is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried out” (CCC# 1364).

“In this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner” (CCC #1367).

In different phrases, at every Mass, the priest summons Christ to be re-sacrificed so that one’s salvation might be furthered. The implication is, that our justification is incomplete on the idea of Christ’s once-for-all substitutionary dying. Scripture, nevertheless, teaches the other:

“And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:11-12).

Thus, the Mass should be utterly abandoned.

3. The Tragedy of Notre-Dame’s Mariolatry

The identify of the cathedral says sufficient. Notre-Dame was unapologetically consecrated to the Virgin Mary from its starting. Once more, the time of its development have been the glory days of Catholicism; a time during which Mariolatry was very important as it is now.

There are a number of spots for veneration of Mary at Notre-Dame. The first is “The Portal of the Virgin” underneath the North Tower, just left of the Portal of Judgment. What catches the attention is the top scene: Mary in heaven, seated on a throne subsequent to Jesus. He’s handing her a scepter, whereas an angel units a crown on her head. Thus, one should conclude that Mary is the Queen of Heaven who guidelines with a scepter at the right hand of Christ. And the unlucky medieval French peasants wouldn’t know any higher as a result of they couldn’t read that the Bible teaches no such thing.

Under that depicts Mary lying on her dying
bed, surrounded by Jesus and the Twelve Apostles. Two angels at Mary’s head and
ft are within the process of bringing her to heaven. The objective of it all is to
preach Mary’s coronation, sovereignty, and redemptive work from heaven.

Exaltation of Mary continues as you proceed into the cathedral. Beside (and along with) the altar, probably the most prized statue in Notre-Dame is the statue of Mary, Queen of Heaven. White flowers all the time honor her, with the title of “Our Lady of Paris.” From the origins of the cathedral in the twelfth century, an altar dedicated to the Virgin was positioned at this location. It’s stated that, “For more than eight centuries, pilgrims and visitors pray at the foot of this statue Mary, Queen of Heaven; these prayers carried by many flames of devotion, burning days and nights throughout the year.”

Paul Claudel is claimed to have converted to Catholicism underneath the statue on Christmas of 1886. He subsequently wrote this, which is a famous prayer for the cathedral:

It’s midday. I see the church open. You must enter.
Mother of Jesus Christ, I don’t come to wish. I’ve nothing to offer and nothing to ask. I only come, Mother, to take a look at you. To take a look at you, to cry with happiness, to know that I am your son and that you’re there.

And there’s the Litanies of the Virgin, established sometime in the 16th century. Still sung at this time, this litany is a prayer to Mary that is impressed by the North stained-glass home windows. The prayer to Mary is as follows:

Gate of Righteousness, Seat of Knowledge, Cause of our Pleasure, Religious Vase, Vase of Honor, Eminent Vase of Piety, Mystic Rose, Tower of David, Ivory Tower, Golden House, Ark of the Covenant, Gate from Heaven, Morning Star, Salvation of the sick…

There’s additionally the Angelus, which is prayed every morning at Notre-Dame before the first mass and on a regular basis at noon. Amongst other things, it says:

Pray for us, Holy Mother of God, that we might turn into worthy of the guarantees of Christ.

The record goes on. And, Rome has not softened, but strengthened, her Mariolatry because the development of Notre-Dame.

Pope Leo XIII stated in an encyclical on September 22, 1891, “As no
man goeth to the Father by but by the Son, so no man goeth to Christ however by His

In another encyclical from September 8, 1892, Leo stated,
“It’s a great point in any saint to have grace adequate for salvation of
many souls; but to have sufficient to suffice for the salvation of everyone in the
world is the greatest of all; and this is found in Christ and the Blessed

In different words, Mary herself
possesses the righteousness to save lots of every soul. Thus, she holds a status
equal to that of Christ.

Alphonsus Ligouri, a saint and physician of Rome, wrote one of the preferred Mariolatry devotionals in Roman Catholicism, referred to as, “The Glories of Mary.” In it, he wrote the following:

With cause does the ancient writer call her ‘the only hope of sinners,’ for by her help alone can we hope for the remission of sins (83).

All obey the instructions of Mary—even God himself (202).

Pope John Paul II once stated, “The
historical past of Christian piety teaches that Mary is the best way which results in Christ.”
And after his 1981 assassination try, he credited Mary with saving his

For sure, Mary, a sinner saved by grace like the remaining of us, can be horrified at such Mariolatry (Luke 1:47, Mark 3:33-35). Whether or not we call it veneration, adoration, or one thing else, Rome promotes the idolatrous worship of a mere human, Mary.

four. The Tragedy of Notre-Dame’s Idolatry

In keeping with Roman Catholic theology, there’s much idolatry throughout the cathedral. Saints are exalted on almost each wall. On July seventh, 1456, Joan of Arc was declared harmless and a martyr, then in 1909 Pope Pius X beatified her from Notre-Dame.

Some may argue, “Look, it’s just art and preference. It’s not meant to be absolute truth.” That could be the sentiment of a 21st century post-modern viewers, nevertheless it definitely was not during Rome’s glory days of medieval occasions, nor is it now. Notre-Dame’s message is in step with present Roman Catholic doctrine. What the cathedral preaches is intended to be fact; reality; theological actuality pertaining to all humanity. Thus, it won’t do for immediately’s audience to impose unfortunate trendy fantasies on what was meant to communicate religious absolute for mankind.

5. The Tragedy of Notre-Dame’s Relics

Amongst Notre-Dame’s prized possessions is her reliquary, situated in the cathedral’s vestry (although some have been relocated in the course of the hearth). She boasts of many relics. There are no less than three value mentioning.

A Fragment of the Wooden of the Cross

Preserved in a crystal case is a 24-cm lengthy piece of wood which is claimed to be from the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified.

John Calvin’s statement in his Treatise on Relics from the 16th century is telling:

Now allow us to think about how many relics of the true cross there are on the planet. An account of these merely with which I am acquainted would fill an entire quantity, for there’s not a church, from a cathedral to probably the most miserable abbey or parish church, that does not include a bit. Giant splinters of it are preserved in numerous locations, as for example in the Holy Chapel at Paris, while at Rome they present a crucifix of considerable measurement made totally, they say, from this wooden. Briefly, if we have been to collect all these pieces of the true cross exhibited in numerous elements, they might type an entire ship’s cargo.

A Nail from the Cross

Additionally in Notre-Dame’s reliquary is one other crystal tube, this one with a golden silver head and tip. Inside is a three-and-a-half-inch long nail which is claimed to have been one of the nails with which Christ was crucified. One of the problems with this relic, nevertheless, is that first century Roman nails have been properly over twice so long as this one, and more like spikes than nails. Moreover, there are no less than 9 other cathedrals/places claiming to possess nails from Christ’s cross.

The Crown of Thorns

The most prized object at Notre-Dame sits
in a circular gold and glass tube sure together by golden threads. It’s believed
to be the crown of thorns worn by Jesus at his crucifixion. The spines and
rushes from the crown, nevertheless, are not included, as it’s stated that they
have been long-ago bought to emperors and kings.

Notre-Dame’s “Holy Crown of Thorns” is claimed to have been an object of devotion for more than 1600 years because it was removed from the Basilica of Zion in Jerusalem. Over those sixteen centuries, supposedly, this crown has carried the “fervent prayer of Christendom.” Many have been thrilled to study that the crown of thorns had been rescued from the hearth. Nevertheless, twenty-one other church buildings and cathedrals around the globe additionally report possessing half of the crown of thorns.

Notre-Dame’s crown of thorns is introduced out on the first Friday of each month at 3pm, guarded by the Knights, such that “the Holy Relics are exposed for veneration and adoration by the faithful before the cathedral’s high altar [and] every Good Friday; this adoration lasts all day, punctuated by the liturgical offices.”

These, of course, are a small fraction of the profuse relicolatry in Roman Catholicism. Rome upholds the veneration of relics as inerrant doctrine. The Council of Trent, teaches that Catholic clergy are to “especially instruct the faithful diligently concerning the intercession and invocation of saints; the honour (paid) to relics; and the legitimate use of images” (Session 25).


“[T]hey who affirm that veneration and honour are not due to the relics of the saints, or that these and other sacred monuments are uselessly honoured by the faithful, and that the places dedicated to the memories of the saints are in vain visited with the view of obtaining their aid, are wholly to be condemned, as the Church has already long since condemned, and also now condemns them” (Council of Trent, Session 25).

Relicolatry is a flagrant violation of probably the most primary and important instructions in Scripture (Exod. 20:3-5). Whether we use the terms “veneration,” “adoration,” “devotion,” or “fervent prayer,” is of no relevance. It is enshrining the creation over the Creator, and thus pagan idolatry.

Relicolatry is the type of nonsense that have to be abandoned in totality. It’s an insult to human intelligence and the rational use of dignified human schools. Relicolatry is a apply with no biblical foundation, being much more akin to superstitious paganism. Additional, it is an affront to the sober and critical worship of the true God in accordance with the phrase of God. It additionally trivializes Who ought to be worshiped, elevating the factor that touched God to the place of the God that it touched.


The current hearth of Notre-Dame de Paris was a tragedy. A lot was misplaced of an architectural and inventive marvel. Nevertheless, if Christians are going to be sober-minded individuals of love and fact (Eph. 4:14-15), we must admit that there lies a larger tragedy in all of it. For near a millennia, Notre-Dame de Paris has propagated catastrophic error as it pertains to truths concerning heaven, hell, the gospel, and the salvation of man. The theological place of the cathedral is just not one which would lead a person to heaven. Thus, we will say that the loss of such a construction is not any more a menace to biblical Christianity than the loss of obscure pagan artistry. The burning of such a construction won’t render anyone’s soul and eternity in jeopardy. The heretical theology of such a structure will. We must hold religious reality as prime priority if we are going to be individuals of fact and love, trustworthy to the Lord Jesus Christ and his phrase. Thus, the fact that Notre-Dame de Paris has promoted a false approach to heaven for hundreds of years is the higher tragedy.