By Michelle Powers
Arnaud Boutheon remembers when he first saw Notre Dame light up. He’s an ambassador for the Knights of Columbus in France. Arnaud was behind the popular project that attracted hundreds of thousands, but now he’s unsure if the cathedral will ever light again.
“Through this dramatic event, there is this question. ‘What does God want to tell us?’”, he said.
Nearly one billion in donations has poured in for the vast restoration. Though a sadness fills Arnaud’s heart, he sees the fire as a sign from god, and an opportunity to evangelize.
“Time is a huge opportunity for us to evangelize. Because many people many people abroad, many people from France, have said ‘Wow, we will come back,’” he added.
Sounds of rebuilding can already be heard at the cathedral, and hosts of specialized artisans and skilled workmen from around the world will soon meet in Paris.
President Emmanuel Macron is pledging to restore the cathedral on a five-year plan, but that is at odds with art historian Louis Manaranche.
He says restoring the jewel of gothic architecture could take much longer.
“When you have a real historical monument like that, you can’t be too in a hurry. You have to do it properly and to respect the history – and that’s also respecting that it can last decades,” he said.
Cathedrals often took centuries to build and Notre Dame itself taking 200 years.
Louis says the damage to the cathedral is the worst in its history. Even worse than damages made during the French Revolution and World War II.
Around the cathedral many people are mentioning a new sense of resiliency, one like never before.
A resilience to not only rebuild the church, but to restore the faith.