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Art historian Elizabeth Lev on Notre Dame: it's a collective memory of faith


The Catholic world was shaken when a fire raged, consuming Notre Dame Cathedral, sending flames and smoke far into the air. 

For more than 20 years, Elizabeth Lev has worked as an Art historian at the Vatican. She comments on what the destruction of this cathedral means.

ELIZABETH LEV
Art Historian, Vatican Museums
“I think there's something really quite remarkable about Notre Dame. Many people sort of took it for granted. Mostly what Notre Dame is, it's a collective. It's as Pope Francis said, it's a historical jewel of a collective memory. It is a collective memory of faith.”

Lev expressed that this collective group embraced good and bad days, strikes, riots, the Revolution, secularism and even neglect. Yet, the cathedral stood.

ELIZABETH LEV
Art Historian, Vatican Museums
“When Christian France, the eldest daughter of the Church, the first nation, to become a Christian, they built this amazing church on this island, dedicating their geographical center to the Mother of God.” Everybody helped. Everything was part, everybody was part of this. This is an expression of the people of the love of God.”

French President, Emmanuel Macron, has made an appeal, asking for help to rebuild this cathedral in five years. Responses and more than $800 million in donations have ensued. People are rallying.

ELIZABETH LEV
Art Historian, Vatican Museums
“They rally around. Some because it's a cultural artifact; some on their knees praying; some standing and singing. But you know what we're looking at? We're looking at a people gather together and that's an ecclesial. So it's still doing its job bringing people together.” 

From France to the United States and even the Vatican, countries are offering support. In fact, President Trump called Pope Francis to express his closeness in light of the event.