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Harvard University Architecture Historian: Notre-Dame Burning Down Is ‘Act of Liberation’

TOPSHOT - Smokes ascends as flames rise during a fire at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019 afternoon, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said. (Photo by FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)
FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty
TOM CICCOTTA

Harvard University Professor Patricio del Real told Rolling Stone this week that the burning of the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris was an “act of liberation.”

Patricio del Real, an art and architecture professor at Harvard University, told Rolling Stone magazine this week that he felt that the burning of Notre-Dame this week was an “act of liberation.” Why? According to the report from Rolling Stone, the burning was liberating because some feel that the Catholic Church is a “deeply flawed institution.”

But for some people in France, Notre Dame has also served as a deep-seated symbol of resentment, a monument to a deeply flawed institution and an idealized Christian European France that arguably never existed in the first place. “The building was so overburdened with meaning that its burning feels like an act of liberation,” says Patricio del Real, an architecture historian at Harvard University.

French President Emmanuel Macron pledged this week to restore Notre-Dame within five years. The restoration will require contributions from skilled craftsmen including stone-cutters, mortar makers, roofers, and sculptors. Some, like University of Kent Medieval History Professor Emily Guerry, think that the restoration could take up to two decades.

“This will be the largest, most important cultural renovation project in France for some time to come,” Guerry said.

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