Thoughts from Bishop Thomas about the Notre Dame fire

Bishop Thomas McMahon, Bishop Emeritus of Brentwood, who studied for the priesthood in France, has expressed his sadness at the damage done to Notre Dame.

Bishop Thomas attended St Sulpice seminary in Paris and narrowly missed ordination in Notre Dame because he was too young. He said: “As I watched the fire it looked so apocalyptic that I feared it would consume everything – so I was relieved to hear that the structure is intact. I am anxious to know about the very ancient stained glass in the building. The Bleu de Chartres colour devised in medieval times is now irreplaceable – we have lost the knowledge to recreate it. Whilst it is a cause for thanksgiving that the structure is safe, there is great sadness that a lot of the medieval glass can never be restored.”

He continued: “What strikes me most is the universal ‘soul sadness’ – a phrase I heard on Thought for the Day – about the loss of so much. That sadness arises when buildings of international stature that give us a kind of reassurance, such as Notre Dame, Windsor Castle and York Minster (both of which have experienced similar conflagrations), are threatened with destruction. A fire also destroyed the old St Paul’s Cathedral. Sir Christopher Wren, commissioned with rebuilding it, picked up a stone from the debris which read ‘resurgam’ in Latin, meaning ‘I will rise again’ – which coincidentally is the message of Easter.”