After watching the cathedral burn last year, Fr. Amar recalled that the Bishop of Nanterre remarked: "And suddenly France remembered that she was Christian."
"Why did the whole world cry [for] Notre-Dame?" the priest asked. "Notre-Dame transmits to us this feeling of the absolute; she gives us a foretaste of eternity."
"To name all the authors and artists she has inspired, we would have the time to rebuild the framework on our own! It is this transcendence that inspires. It is a direct link with the Creator," he said.
The priest said that Victor Hugo's description of Notre-Dame's 16 bells, including 2 bourdon bells, provides a sense of their power: "At last the great flight began; the whole earth was shaking: frames, lead, ashlar stones all rumbled at once."
Notre-Dame's bells include a 13-ton bourdon bell in the south tower, which was named Jacqueline in 1400 after the wife of its donor. When it was recast in 1686, the bell was renamed "Emmanuel Louise Therese" by Louis XIV.
"Did you know that in the 12th century, 12 strong men were requisitioned to ring 'Jacqueline'?" Amar asked, noting that he thought this was like the "12 apostles to call to prayer."
"In front of the cathedrals, the crowds stop in silence, unable to understand the splendour of these architectural immensities, admiring nevertheless instinctively," French sculptor Auguste Rodin wrote, Amar said, noting that Notre-Dame de Paris is not the only cathedral in France to play this role.
"How can we not mention Reims, sanctuary of the kings of France, or Chartres, land of pilgrimages!" he said. "But Notre-Dame has the seniority: with its 850 years of history, she is among the first gothic cathedrals of its time."
"For years, Notre-Dame was there, in front of us, and we only took the time to contemplate her at the moment the arrow fell! Why does it always take tragic circumstances to awaken the world?" he asked.