The Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris is one of the most visited monuments in the world and the news of its destruction due to a fire that broke out in the late afternoon, has quickly gone around the world.
The historic building was celebrated among others by Victor Hugo in his “Notre-Dame de Paris”. Re-reading now the pages of the novel published in 1831, an incredible prophecy seems to lie between his pages… we read a detailed description of a fire inside the cathedral… “A great flame between the bell towers“. And speaking of man’s neglect he thundered like this: “The time is blind and the man is foolish“, with implication to the fire that struck the cathedral built in 1163, of which the restoration of the roof is being blamed.
It is precisely the importance of protecting a work of this kind that led Hugo to raise awareness among Parisians so that the cathedral could be restored. In the nineteenth century, when Victor Hugo wrote his novel, the Parisians considered the Gothic buildings almost of monstrosities, it was only thanks to his novel and his campaign of awareness on the destiny of the church, writing an editorial where he declared war to the “demolishers”, that the restoration started.
And the story of the hunchback of Notre-Dame and of Esmeralda that made entire generations dream, contains a much stronger meaning in relation. The deformed Quasimodo, ugly on the outside but with a great inner richness, was nothing but a humanised metaphor of the Cathedral.
Re-reading those pages now, looking back at the carelessness of man, we read an incredible prophecy: “Without doubt it is still today a majestic and sublime building, the church of Notre-Dame of Paris. But, however beautiful it has been preserved as it ages, it is difficult not to sigh, not to be indignant at the degradation, at the incalculable mutilations that time and men have inflicted on this venerable monument … On the face of that old queen of our cathedrals, a scar is always be found next to a wrinkle. Tempus edax, homo edacior. What I would willingly translate: Time is blind, man is a fool “.
What’s more, the writer in the beginning of his novel had imagined a devastating fire inside the cathedral that he described: “All eyes had risen to the top of the church, what they saw was extraordinary. At the top of the highest gallery, higher than the central rose window, that is mounted between the two bell-towers, with whirlwinds of sparks, a great disorderly and furious flame of which at times the wind carried away a limbo in the smoke … Under that flame, under the balustraded dome cut in embers of embers, two gutters made with the jaws of monsters, they ceaselessly spewed out that fiery rain whose silvery roar stood out in the shadow of the lower facade”.