I was at work, mourning Notre Dame, and a friend consoled me by saying:
“All the wood and stained glass? It’s not that old. It’s only 100 years old, because Notre Dame, the inside? It was all shelled during World War I. They were these long guns the enemy hauled with a train, and they shelled the cathedral. But they rebuilt it all in 100 years. They’ll just do it again.”
“Why, that makes me feel just a little bit better,” I said. I can get over the loss of a 100 year old pew much more quickly than a 700 year old pew.
It made me feel so much better, that I tried to find more information about the WWI shelling of Notre Dame, especially after Rachel Maddow referenced it in her show.
I found two things:
- In the Wikipedia entry on the Paris Gun:
A parody of the Paris Gun appears in the Charlie Chaplin movie The Great Dictator. Firing at the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the "Tomanians" (the fictional country that represented Germany) succeed in blowing up a small outhouse.
“Did my friend watch The Great Dictator and remember that scene?” I wondered. “It is the very first scene.” You can watch it here. Notre Dame does not make an appearance, but it is mentioned.
- There was a Notre Dame in Reims, France that was destroyed in WWI, and it certainly did resemble the one in Paris. Here it is mid-shelling.
I was feeling almost chipper after I found out that - with the exception of the northern rose window - the stained glass was all new as of 1965. But then, I looked through my own photos.
What has happened to these angels?
Update: Apostles, not angels, and they were beheaded and packed up well before the fire.
... and my friend did indeed confuse the Reims Notre Dame with the Paris Notre Dame.