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Famous for being famous?

https://www.reuters.com/world/macron-scales-notre-dames-rooftop-two-years-after-cathedral-fire-2021-04-15/ "We will need all these donations to complete the necessary work. We
need people to keep giving money," Georgelin told France Inter radio.

Not a lot of new info in the article, but what struck me is that near the bottom of the article is that donations are still needed to pay for the work. The fire and now the repairs have taken the world by storm and I'm sure more private money will be raised. Admittedly I'm not much for cathedrals and churches, but it still intrigues me, and I wonder why. Is it because Notre Dame is like the Mona Lisa and is simply famous for being famous? I'm curious for your thoughts. What intrigues you about Notre Dame?

Posted by
27759 posts

It is an excellent example of a gothic cathedral, with loads of history, and is for me very inspirational. I have been at services there which really moved me.

And I am not Catholic. Or French.

Posted by
747 posts

History and location make it famous. Its been a central part of Paris since the mid-12th century, and before that it was the site of two Roman Temples and the center of Roman- Lutetia which dates back to 52 BC. Its the place of origin for the city of Paris. In front of Notre Dame, is also Point Zero, in measurement, this is the center of France.

Posted by
6649 posts

Ohhh Allan. I was hoping you had changed your way of thinking after the Mona Lisa thread🙂. \

What intrigues me about ND is much the same as with most of the cathedrals I see in Europe:

The engineering it took to build such a thing in the centuries before modern heavy equipment and machinery.
The perseverance it took for a community to build such a thing that carried through multiple generations.
The architectural innovations, knowledge of materials, and creativity at solving problems (e.g., the flying buttresses).
The art and attention to detail that was lavished on buildings that were not any one persons property, when contemporaneous buildings are mostly crude and unpolished.
and wonderment that places of worship were so central to the core of life and culture in our ancestors' lives, they they would spend a fortune in time and treasure building such a thing. Modern day N. Americans may have trouble understanding how much of a role religion has played in Western Civilization, good and bad.

The oldest building in my city is an Irish Pub built in 1851 by Daniel Boone's grandson. So its amazing to see anything as old as ND still holding a meaningful place in a modern society. I suppose an American might look at the fire and see a great opportunity to tear it down and build a casino/hotel (with my name in big letters on the front) in that prime piece of real estate. Thank goodness the French think differently.

Posted by
273 posts

I'm not Christian. I'm not religious in any way. And I view some of the churches, basilicas, and cathedrals in France with mixed feelings. Yes, many of them are beautiful, if not spectacular, examples of ancient architecture, art, and technology, but as I walk through them I think about the abject poverty and suffering inflicted on the population who were asked to pay for them. How many people went hungry because of that beautifully carved curved stone staircase leading to... I don't know what it's called.... a lectern? A pulpit? Did children die from malnutrition to pay for those beautiful stained glass windows?

Every one of those hundreds or thousands of religious structures in France represents some form of taking from the local population. And, as with Notre Dame de Paris, the taking went on for generations.

That said, I don't think I'll ever forget my French neighbor on the morning after the fire. I stopped by early in the morning to take care of some business and she asked if I had heard the news. She seemed odd -- almost as if she was sleep walking. When I asked if she meant the fire at Notre Dame, tears filled her eyes and her shoulders shook as she sobbed. I know it's not a French thing, but I couldn't help but put my arms around her and hug her tightly. She was deeply affected by it, and based on what I've seen since then she's not alone. That structure has meaning for some French people that I don't think you or I could ever fully understand.

So, yes, Notre Dame is famous. But it's famous in ways some of us may be unable to perceive.

Posted by
465 posts

Notre Dame is famous famous because it is arguably one of the best looking Cathedrals in the world.

Of course the book / movie helped too

Posted by
2399 posts

Notre Dame was one of the first things I wanted to see on my first trip to Paris. But when I saw the line of people waiting just to get in, my heart sank, and we decided to see Sainte Chappelle instead. I don't regret skipping Notre Dame.

Posted by
27759 posts

that line of people used to move pretty quickly. The line to climb the tower - now that one moved slowly - - very slowly

Posted by
5625 posts

Notre Dame has been an integral part of Paris for centuries. Notre Dame = Paris. Paris = Notre Dame.

Yes, there’s more to Paris than one church, but the site is the heart and soul of Paris, and a visit has been a must on every trip. Mona Lisa has not, although the painting does carry some significance.

Posted by
5262 posts

What stan said. It's famous for many good reasons, which causes it to be famous for being famous. Kinda like the Mona Lisa.
Does that make sense?

Sammy seems uncomfortable with feudalism, a system vastly different from what we know but the one Europe was organized around for centuries. None of us would like it either, but we're products of our times. So were medieval Europeans. Ken Follett's "Kingsbridge" novels, especially The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, offer well-researched depictions of feudal society and cathedral-building, along with insights into how England gradually began shifting toward different social and economic arrangements.

Posted by
13524 posts

It is an excellent example of a gothic cathedral, with loads of
history

You betcha. A killer example of Gothic architecture. Hugo's "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame" managed to save the thing when it was falling apart in the 19th century.

Ken Follett's "Kingsbridge" novels, especially The Pillars of the
Earth and World Without End....

Dick, I read and loved them both. "Pillars of the
Earth" a little more than "World Without End." Read "Pillars" more than once.

Posted by
1277 posts

I love it because it is Quasimodo's home.

I came home from France and Named a cat esmeralda

Posted by
747 posts

In the same sort of thinking, I too, have mixed feelings regarding cathedrals. They were both Religious and Political statements of influence and power. And there is a hint of "regional competition" to have a more grand cathedral than one's neighbor. Its a fun insight in to human nature and how much we haven't changed. Modern equivalent would be skyscrapers and the impulse to build the tallest in the world, just to have bragging rights.

Cathedrals always wanted to push the boundaries of technology at the time, and have the best relics This was a opportunity for the best and brightest to be involved with that. This employed a huge number of artisans, that may have been the basis of what we now call the middle-class. The serfs, also had some skin in the game, as labor was applied to taxes, and it was your local King/Sovereign, that protected you from, well, OTHER Kings and such. It wasn't entirely slavery, yet most people had no right to own their land. And could be conscripted at anytime to be part of the local army. We still have this today, so we are not so far from the way it has always worked.

So, cathedrals are problematic in the sense that they are intended to make an individual feel small against the powers that be, and a family's support of the cathedral, would give them they're own chapel. These people have to be more favored by god to have their own space, in such an important space. That's the political message.

For myself, all of these cathedrals are very interesting, even if they are not as famous as Notre Dame.
They have transcended their true propose and been rebranded into something else, Center of Paris, Center of France, whatever, they are a reflection back in time as to how people thought of where the very basis of how a community should have a focal point and an acceptance of the mantles of power.

Posted by
1897 posts

In the mid-20th century the Univ of Chicago had a very influential comparative religions department and within that department the historian/philosopher Mircea Eliade became a strong voice in the study of religion -- it's his paradigms of the sacred and the profane and a few other frameworks that underlay the field for a couple of decades - the same decades when the contemporary relationship between church and state was being reworked in France.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mircea_Eliade

Eliade zeroed in on a paradox regarding the sacred, namely, the sacred depends upon the profane for its expression through form. Without a particular, earthly manifestation, the sacred doesn't do us much good.

Hence the cathedral, and the overarching apparatus of religious practice - it's the means by which we, real people, can interact with the ineffable.

Eliade's ideas were not very different from a line of Catholic reasoning that dates back to the Reformation (at least). When Protestants protest about the indirect, mediated connection that the Church traditionally insists upon, the response is that the Blood of Christ is so powerful, so overwhelming, that it needs a container, a chalice, to hold it safely so that it can be a cure rather than a poison (the dose makes the medicine/poison). The Church is that chalice -- and the cathedral is that locus where the sacred can be apprehended by the mortal(s).

Now for a little editorializing: Spirit, like fire, is a wonderful servant but a terrible master. Contained well they are both boons to good living, but when they get out of control great constructions are quickly brought low.

Note that the views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the management -- I'm responding to the OP and to the comment above -- maybe feudal people experienced these big buildings not as the bigshots making them feel small, but as a real-world example of how they each and all had a hand in making something marvelous -- a community building endeavor.

Posted by
31473 posts

""We will need all these donations to complete the necessary work. We need people to keep giving money"

What happened to all the rich folks that came out of the woodwork after the fire and promised to contribute billions to the restoration? And of course also the funds that the government was going to contribute.

Posted by
8412 posts

You are right, Emma. Although the people dispatched with the nobility and clergy 230 years ago, attachment to this government owned historical monument remains. My anti-clerical husband who grew up passing by often, always looking out the bus window at it either in awe or to make sure everything was in order, felt many emotions while watching the flames on TV. After all, despite the clergy, it's the people's house, unlike Versaille. Victor Hugo could have chosen any cathedral in France or any church in Paris as the setting of his novel. He chose Notre Dame de Paris.

Posted by
2334 posts

Apply that thought to a religious, historic and architectural landmark
that has been part of people's lives for nearly 1000 years and the
willingness of people to respond emotionally and financially perhaps
makes more sense.

I didn't recopy all of Emma's comment but it ties into the reasoning for the post. There were outpourings of emotion after the fire and money donated, but now the money is drying up and more needed. That, along with the building needing a boost by the Hunchback to become popular again after becoming decrepit made me wonder of the historical significance that people felt about it through time. I had to ask if it takes significant events like the fire and the book to bring it back into popularity.

Posted by
2334 posts

Ohhh Allan. I was hoping you had changed your way of thinking after
the Mona Lisa thread🙂. \

But Stan, I'm not the one that suggested that Lisa was famous for being famous, that was in the answers to that post. Those answers were part of the inspiration for asking this time. I am impressed on how it was built and the craftsmanship, but I'm also curious why it took a hunchback to bring it back into mainstream.

Posted by
6649 posts

Allan, I think the whole Hunchback thing is overrated as far as its significance. It never even occurred to me during our visit. I am sure there are many Hollywood/Broadway inspired American visitors who go just to see "where it really happened", just like the Sound of Music tours, but thats just fluff on top of the real historic significance of the place.

But you could stretch the whole question into "why do people go to Paris? Is it just famous for being famous?" After all its just a bunch of old buildings. Places have history and meaning beyond their physical presence. And a context for which they shouldn't be judged by present day standards and non-universal values.

Posted by
13524 posts

Well, this is what the Notre Dame website has to say regarding the influence of Hugo's book to kickstart renovation of the abused and crumbling landmark (google translated from French):

https://www.notredamedeparis.fr/decouvrir/histoire/lepoque-contemporaine/

"The influence of Victor Hugo
During the revolution of 1830, the riotters destroy the stained glass windows and degrade the cathedral by burning the neighboring Archbishop. Following these sacks, the Parisian authorities envisage the complete destruction of Notre-Dame. But in 1831, the publication of Our Lady of Paris by Victor Hugo wins a great success and triggers a national mobilization for its safeguarding."

Posted by
2236 posts

It's one of the iconic structures in Europe, and has been for nearly 900 years.
For many it represents the beating heart of Paris itself, and perhaps all of France. Seeing it burn last year struck a visceral chord with many people around the world. Some have compared it to a death in the family.

Posted by
27759 posts

a slightly condensed quote...

Lisa was famous for being famous,... ... but I'm also curious why it took a hunchback to bring it back into mainstream.

It took a hunchback to bring Lisa (Mona Lisa to you) back into the mainstream? I didn't know that she knew one. Or are you saying that DaVinci was a hunchback?

So easy to get confused....

Posted by
6872 posts

That's just natural - the ex-colonies in what is currently Brazil.
USA, Mexico and so on are always going to have a "cringe" factor when
faced by the more advanced culture back in their various mother
countries.

Translation? "Advanced culture" in their various mother countries? I'm guessing this means a current US or Canadian citizen is not adequately cultured to understand why the Notre Dame has such meaning to the French or Europeans. What a shame to be in that boat...

Posted by
3040 posts

I think the whole Hunchback thing is overrated as far as its
significance. It never even occurred to me during our visit.

It didn't occur to me either, until I was in the nearby Shakespeare and Company bookstore after touring Notre Dame and thought it would be cool to have a copy of the book purchased at a legendary bookstore steps from cathedral.

Posted by
747 posts

While in Tours France, we were dumb struck by this little known gem of a Cathedral. Its just as magnificent as any other, yet it isn't famous. We spent the better part of a morning exploring this, just the Wife and I. I don't remember seeing another person, tourist, or even a care taker person on site. We could not even find a care taker, as we like to see if there is a bell tower tour or something. It took hundreds of years to build. And today, it is almost entirely forgotten. Fame is a fickle thing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tours_Cathedral

Posted by
1277 posts

Speaking of translation struggles, kathy tells us the neighboring archbishop was burned??

Posted by
273 posts

"but as I walk through them I think about the abject poverty and suffering inflicted on the population who were asked to pay for them."
Yes, the people were reduced to eating dirt as they lay face-down all day surrounding the construction sites so the stones and other materials could be rolled over them, like a paved road.
At night, people were hung upside down to dry off, and they had to sleep that way.
They got used to it--all in sacrifice to the evil powers that got rich off the cathedrals.

So, Bobby, is that what passes for polite conversation on Mars?

My comment was perhaps informed by the vast number of such structures that were constructed in France during the 900-1300 era (roughly). Romanesque transitioning to gothic. I see them everywhere around where I live, especially the Cluniac network. Many of them still are in use. In smaller towns the churches commonly are the largest structure around, even a millennium after they were built. So I think it's reasonable to assume the funds demanded by the Church and local nobility to conduct a construction program of such scope and magnitude over the course of several hundred years did inflict substantial suffering on the population. It didn't seem like a joking matter to me, but I'll concede we all have different senses of humor.

Posted by
1277 posts

Kathy, I "assumed " that it meant residence.
But, it could have been about some tragic story of martyrdom.......

Posted by
1222 posts

I've never been to Paris but would definitely go to Notre Dame if I ever visited. My wife's the religious one, but I enjoy going into religious buildings, especially those of old stone, huge trusses and beams, and stained glass done the right way. England and France have the best, from those I've seen.

"Yes, the people were reduced to eating dirt as they lay face-down all day surrounding the construction sites so the stones and other materials could be rolled over them, like a paved road.
At night, people were hung upside down to dry off, and they had to sleep that way.
They got used to it--all in sacrifice to the evil powers that got rich off the cathedrals."
- Bobby, that's interesting. Where did you read that?

Posted by
26 posts

"Where did you read that?"

The famous novel where Quasimoto fell in love with Mona Lisa, climbed the Eiffel Tower with planes buzzing him, before he fell to earth during the Earthquake, landing on the Titanic, which was moored in the Seine at the time.

Posted by
114 posts

Notre-Dame de Paris is one of the finest examples of French Gothic Architecture, with its flying buttresses, rib vaults, and large rose window. It's been an icon of Paris for centuries. I can't conceptualize Paris without it. Just thinking about it brings back the earthy stone smell of the ages.

Now just imagine the vision those first architects and craftsman had to begin a project they would not see the completion of. The building took 97 years to become mostly complete. Was it a confident faith, bold optimism, divine inspiration, or a planning fallacy? Either way, I'm intrigued!

Posted by
5625 posts

OK, emma, which has more windows, an iconic red phone booth, or the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral?

Posted by
1120 posts

Francis, You're right on the money! The Cathédrale Saint-Gatien de Tours is an absolute masterpiece. You can't help but be awe struck with it

Posted by
273 posts

"It would be most reasonable to study the matter before just making things up."

I let this little litter box deposit of a comment age and desiccate for a few days before responding.

First, I didn't "just making things up." I provided an opinion. "Making things up" and providing an opinion are two different things. You may want to study the difference. It might prove enlightening.

Second, I am not presenting myself as an expert on such matters. You, Bobby, on the other hand, seem to be doing so.

I'm a scientist -- a geologist -- not a cultural anthropologist or an historian. Perhaps you are one of those learned people in such academic fields with considerable expertise on the financing of church and cathedral building in France of a thousand years ago. If so, I ask your deepest forgiveness at troubling you with my apparently ignorant musings.

But, at your urging, I did a little reading. I found a French professor, Dr. Denis Cailleaux at the Université de Bourgogne in Dijon. He has an interesting paper entitled Les Comptes de Construction des Cathédrales Medievales.

He wrote that, initially, the funds for constructing religious structures came largely from the donations of bishops. Later on, when the French monarchy became more powerful, those sources of funding were supplemented by royal funds, generated by increased taxes.

Now, perhaps you are among those folks who believe the riches bishops controlled arrived to them through some divine providence, with no participation by the local populace.

I'm not one of those folks.

I believe the wealth controlled by medieval bishops originated in payments extracted from the population in their area using various forms of coercion, promises of divine providence, or threats. Maybe I'm an ignorant fool. But, based on my understanding of how organized religion operates, I don't think so.

And -- regarding taxes levied by royalty to pay its contribution: perhaps you are comfortable in a belief that such a contribution came solely from those so fabulously wealthy that they never even felt the sting of taxation.

I'm not so inclined. I suspect such taxation rested heavily on the poor and the powerless, and that those comfortably ensconced in their châteax and manor houses remained quite comfortable indeed.

But again, perhaps I'm a fool.

Posted by
273 posts

Ah. Autun. Just a bit north of me. I know it fairly well. The renovation of the cathedral should be about finished by now -- I'll be sure and check it out after the 10 km confinement limit is lifted.

I notice absolutely nothing you posted had anything whatsoever to do with how the money used to construct the hundreds of Romanesque and Gothique structures in France came to be applied to the cost of building. Just appeared out of thin air on Mars, I suppose?

On other hand, one could think about the funds bishops controlled, that were used to construct many of the structures. Levies, fees, rent, and donations made either as a routine expectation or special donations exacted from those who viewed artifacts taken on tour. Donations totally voluntary and from blissfully surplus income, I'm sure -- right, old boy?

Royal taxes on the poor -- not a problem. Never has been, has it?

What a wonderful world in which you live. Cows, pigs, plants, occupations, unicorns and leprechauns prancing and scampering about the cathedrals full of brilliant color. And all paid for without the slightest peine on the populace. Again -- what a wonderful world!

Edited: I'll stop now. It's clear Bobby has nothing of value to add, and this exchange has become diverted from Allan's original post. I made in my original comment a sincere contribution and was met with derision from a certain person. Bobby, old boy -- if you wish to rebut anything or add any comment of value that actually relates to the points I raised, feel free to do so in a private message. No need to clutter the message board with your random contributions.

Posted by
1897 posts

On the sub-topic of extorting money from the faithful, let me remind people that the unmentioned but main significance of All Souls Day, nowadays observed on 02 November, is that it was the only day of the year in which priests would celebrate a memorial mass without expectation of an honorarium (a donation/tip/propina/bill).

If you're a poor believer, the mass celebrated on All Souls Day is the one 'free' opportunity you have to get your dead loved ones out of purgatory and into heaven. Every other celebration of memorial masses (and all other masses, too) cost you money.

Some background: All Saints Day, 01 November, which is preceded by the eve of All Hallows (Halloween) is for the gang of dead who have made it into Heaven (aka church triumphant) but the following day, All Souls, is for the dead who are stuck in purgatory (aka church penitent). Those in purgatory can be boosted into the front of the heavenly plane by various good deeds performed by the living faithful (aka church militant) -- and the best of the good works for getting your dearly departed into first class is the celebration of masses for them - a memorial mass. Clear?

From the Catholic Encyclopedia: "The theological basis for the feast is the doctrine that the souls which, on departing from the body, are not perfectly cleansed from venial sins, or have not fully atoned for past transgressions, are debarred from the Beatific Vision, and that the faithful on earth can help them by prayers, alms deeds and especially by the sacrifice of the Mass."

So, this means that on every other day of the year, if you want to get your dead loved ones into heaven you had to pay for it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Souls%27_Day

More food for thought:
https://catholic-link.org/your-complete-guide-to-paying-priests-for-things/

https://www.ncronline.org/news/vatican/francis-chronicles/do-not-pay-mass-redemption-free-pope-says
Pope Francis wouldn't be saying this if there wasn't a reason for it, nez pah?

Posted by
2334 posts

This post had probably run its course before it was kidnapped for awhile, but as a possible final note I was watching a show last night on the rebuilding of Notre Dame and I'm embarrassed to say I had no idea the gargoyles had a purpose. Am I the only one that didn't know they are designed for rainwater runoff? It's the facts and functionality of a building that can raise my interest in it. I thought that way about the Colosseum in Rome when I discovered how modern stadiums are designed in a similar way to move people in and out. I any case, now I have something to focus on and create interest around when I finally get to visit.

Posted by
3789 posts

If gargoyles caught your interest, then do read the above mentioned Follett tome, Pillars of the earth. Take it as a history and architecture lesson.
I came to accept that without the Church, in Europe's past there would be a lot fewer memorable pieces of art.
I still remember however, being a 19 YO Protestant looking at the mosaic in the cupola of Monreale Cathedral in Sicily. The guide proudly spoke of how after its extensive damage in WWII, the locals funded and rebuilt the Cathedral before the rest of the town, including their own homes. I was aghast that it wasn't the Church with its riches paying to rehouse the locals, particularly when crops had be damaged and little food; but if that's how their faith sustained them, I had to make my peace with it. I am but a visitor.

Posted by
2334 posts

If gargoyles caught your interest, then do read the above mentioned
Follett tome, Pillars of the earth. Take it as a history and
architecture lesson.

I did read it years ago, I may need to put it back on the list for a re-read. There's another book; I think it was Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd which is also historical fiction, this time covering the history of Britain from Stonehenge to WW2. In one period of the book it follows a character who was involved in carving statues and such for a new church. It was then that I realized I really should spend more time looking at these carvings when I'm visiting churches.

Posted by
13524 posts

Emma and Allan, I've read Rutherfurd's "Sarum" and "London" both several times and enjoyed them very much. Captivating reads of historical fiction, IMHO.

Posted by
5625 posts

Famous people and places in the Middle Ages must’ve been famous for substantive reasons, more than simply for being famous. Mass media and the truly Worldwide Web have had some less desirable side effects.

Posted by
3308 posts

@Bobby
Some people only go to other places because a certain travel guru (neither young, nor beautiful) has convinced them that those places are not “ touristy” and frequented only by the cognoscenti.