Our thoughts are with the Notre-Dame Cathedral, one of the most famous and enduring cathedrals in France, perhaps even all of Europe. The cathedral was begun in 1160 under Bishop Maurice de Sully and largely completed by 1260. Other additions were made later, but the main structure took 100 years to complete. The cathedral is considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. 2013 marked the 850th anniversary of the Notre-Dame Cathedral.
The Cathedral's flèche or spire, which was destroyed by the fire, was located over the transept and altar. The spire was surrounded by copper statues of the twelve Apostles, in groups of three, one group at each point of the compass. Each of the four groups were preceded by an animal symbolising one of the four evangelists: a steer for Saint Luke, a lion for Saint Mark, an eagle for Saint John and an angel for Saint Matthew. Just days prior to the spire's collapse, all of the statues had been removed for restoration.
The Gothic cathedral was a liber pauperum, a "poor people's book", covered with sculpture vividly illustrating biblical stories. During the early days of the cathedral, the vast majority of parishioners were illiterate. The statues and imagery were used to convey Scripture before the written word was common. One notable tympanum is the illustration of the Last Judgment.
We are grateful and humbled by these religious artifacts, and the legions of faithful it has drawn nearer towards the work of Christ’s church. May the events of this week glorify the Church and bring blessings to his followers around the world.
Just as the cathedral contains timeless treasures, we are building a sanctuary here in Fairfield, Pennsylvania. We are building a simple community, but one with solid foundations. Our little village is being constructed with 14th century building techniques. These huts are being built using raw stone, carefully cut and stacked to form the four walls. These buildings will used for shelter and gatherings, with few modern amenities. Many homes and gathering places built in this way 500 years ago in Europe are still in use today. With providence, we are seeking to finish our community and create a monument that will last for ages.
Our monument is for that of a living gospel, expressed through the deeds and works of the sisters here.