A World of Heartbreak Over Notre-Dame

Fire threatened to destroy everything, and though much is lost, the cathedral’s twin towers remain. France does not have trees big enough to replace the ancient wooden beams, but these will be sourced. Fortunately, the iconic building became such an amalgam of design across the centuries that restoration need not mean exact replication.

John Cameron
St. Andrews, Scotland

To the Editor:

“A traveler in 13th-century France . . . met three men wheeling wheelbarrows. He asked in what work they were engaged and he received from them the following three answers:

“The first said, ‘I toil from sunup to sundown and all I receive for my pains is a few francs a day.’ The second said, ‘I am glad enough to wheel this wheelbarrow for I have been out of work for many months and I have a family to support.’ The third said, ‘I am building Chartres Cathedral’” (Ben Shahn, “The Shape of Content”).

The fire in Notre-Dame has caused many, both inside and outside France, to feel not only sadness, but also a sense of participating in something greater: to reach out, in the spirit of the third man, to help rebuild this glorious building of faith and symbol of civilization.

Wendy J. Eisner
Great Neck, N.Y.

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