Notre Dame Fire; Pilgrim Trails
Let's start today's show remembering the impact of the fire. That damaged Notre Dame cathedral in Paris one year ago with thirteen million visitors a year. The medieval masterpiece had attracting more visitors than Saint Peter's Basilica Elaine Sciolino correspondent in Paris since two thousand and two and she describes how the river that surrounds Notre Dom came to the rescue in her book. The Sam the river that made Paris Elaine. Thanks for joining us. Where were you and I know how much you love Paris? What was it like when you heard about the fire at the Notre Dame on April fifteen twenty nineteen? I live in Paris Rick and I happened to have been in New York at the time and I was in an office building and suddenly looked at a TV screen and there was CNN with the Notre. Dom Inflames I mean my city by cathedral and I was so my first questions were did anyone die and was it terrorism and once it was just established that it was a terrible accident and no one died. I was relieved because I was confident. Even at that very moment that it would be rebuilt. Maybe different but it would survive. It had to yeah now you were probably celebrating the fact that you've got this wonderful book. The send the river that made Paris just coming out in actuality in a Lotta ways. It was the send that enabled the firefighters to save the Cathedral. Well I got a phone call from my husband who was watching all of this on French TV in Paris and he said Lane. You're not gonNA believe this but I'm watching television and there is a boat that seems to be pumping water up to the firefighters on the land into the Cathedral. And I knew at that moment I had to write another chapter about the Senate and its role in helping to put out the fire at Notre Dumb. Thank God they had access to all that water when you think of the structure of a Gothic Cathedral. A lot of people don't realize it but there's huge oak beams there's a whole structure between the ceiling and the roof and it's the network of Oak Beams. The roof would be a lead covered roof. Eight hundred years old. I've seen in museums gargoyles with molten lead spewing out their mouth you know cooling and freezing their when you've had a fire like this. I mean it's just a nightmare when I've got the cathedral bursts into flames. I agree one hundred percent with you. It was an absolute nightmare and it affected people in very strange ways being people who had no real religious connection with Notre Dom we're weeping in the streets and people around the world were mourning the fact that this edifice that too many represents the heart and soul of Paris was on the verge of destruction. No I understand that the nineteenth century spire which in your chapter you you say has five hundred tons of Oak. Two hundred and fifty tons of lead fell three hundred feet crashing to the ground. It's amazing that the entire church didn't collapse A lot of people don't realize that stone gets compromised in heat and giant stone. Buildings can fall down because of a fire with the firefighters who belonged to the French military. They're not part of the city of Paris Force went into action as if it was a military operation and the commander of the firefighters sent some of his team into the burning north tower risking their lives to try to cool down that tower. Which we still don't know one year later. Is it completely intact or does it need to be supported in some way? Now that must have been quite a dramatic decision because you can stand back and make sure nobody is endangers way and then the tower would have collapsed or you can send your firefighters in risking a situation like on nine eleven when the trade towers collapsed and all the firefighters inside would perish again. Thank goodness five. Hundred firefighters participated. They took the bold move they rushed in. They called the church and they say the north tower will general galet. Who is the commander of the firefighters spent time in Afghanistan and he had studied also the nine eleven tragedy in the United States? But he had to go to the president of France to get permission to send his firefighters in. Anybody told the president is if we don't do this. We're half an hour away from Notre Dom collapsing. That is amazing. You know we can more in the church. We can love the church but as hard get into the heart in the mind of Parisians. What does it mean to Paris? I mean it just seems like of course. You've got the zero point in front right. Everything is majored in France from the Notre Dame. Its place where they're kings have been coronated through the centuries in so many ways it's the cultural heart of the city even back before the advent of Christianity there was a temple. Can You Peter Right there? Can you talk a little bit about the Notre Dame as that heart and soul of the Great City of Paris? Notre Dame is on the field unless he tae which was where Paris was created. It's the very origin of Paris. Need sits there as not only a beautiful historical monument to museum but it sits there as the absolute essence of Paris So for French Catholics. It's a place of worship but for the rest of the French nation. It's really the origin of their capital city.