What the Notre-Dame fire reveals about the soul of France

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Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, which was devastated by fire on Monday evening, occupies a very special place in France because of its combination of the secular, the sacred and the profane, and its symbolic representation of the country as a whole.

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France, a fundamentally Roman Catholic country whose citizens rarely attend Mass, understands the story and the meaning of Easter. It is a story of resurrection and rebirth, of the transformation of something profane into something sacred. In a subdued Paris on Tuesday, as Parisians and tourists gathered to stare at the smoke-smudged stones of what is left of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, relieved that the entire structure had not collapsed, there was talk of resurrection and reconstruction, but also of anger and shock at the possibility of what many considered official malfeasance and negligence, reports The New York Times.