Editorial: The heart of Paris burns

One of the most famous religious symbols in history has suffered a devastating fire. The cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, dating back to the 12th century, burned on Monday.

One of the few cathedrals that survived intact from the Middle Ages is badly damaged.

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This is a cathedral, located in the centre of Paris, that survived the Reformation, the Thirty Years War, the Hundred Years War, revolution and two world wars. It is the cultural and spiritual heart of Paris, as much as it is a religious building.

French President Emmanuel Macron has promised to rebuild the cathedral. And so he might. Donors are already pledging hundreds of millions of dollars for the effort. But a replacement is no match for the original.

France no longer has trees large enough to replace the beams, so the roof cannot be rebuilt as it was. And the genius of the people who constructed it over 200 years with only human power and crude machines lived in those now-fallen stones.

Photographs of the famous spire collapsing are heart-searing. Truly, we have all suffered a grievous loss. Our thoughts go out to the people of France.

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