Provincial press releases

Notre Dame – an ‘icon of faith’

The Archbishop of Wales, John Davies, responds to the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris this evening:

Church buildings, great or small, ancient or modern, are the family homes of the Christian faithful in which they are nourished by the sacraments of our faith and in which they hear the words of scripture illuminated. Here, too, both those of faith or none, simply seeking tranquillity and peace of mind, frequently express, in words or silent reflection some of their deepest and most sincere longings and hopes, joys and sorrows. This has been so for generations. These buildings have special resonances in the lives of those who make up the communities in which they are set, and are part of their very identity. They silently connect those communities to something better and greater than the present. Although they are sometimes places where either great skill or plain simplicity in art, music, architecture and engineering are to be found, they remain, before and above all else, places where the grace and truth of Jesus Christ are proclaimed. When such places are desecrated or destroyed, the soul of these communities is harmed. People in parts of our own nation will understand the sense of loss, bereavement and bewilderment which they might feel were their places, the holy sites which they treasure, revere and love to suffer.

Having been a parish priest for 24 years, part of that time as a Cathedral Dean, I can scarcely imagine how the destruction of so much Notre Dame de Paris will impact on the soul of the people of both Paris and France and beyond. An icon of faith, a symbol of Christ’s love and presence among them has, in this most holy week of the Christian year, been fatally wounded.

But 850 years of faith, connection and history cannot be destroyed by one of earth’s elements, fire. In signalling my profound sorrow to my brothers and sisters of the community of Notre Dame, I express the hope that, from the ashes of this wonderful building, there will emerge a renewal of souls and a refreshed determination to proclaim the new life of the Gospel of the Risen Christ whilst mourning the loss of so much earthly treasure.