What is it about Notre-Dame that captures so many hearts across the Atlantic? The answer is centuries old.
When Notre-Dame Cathedral caught fire April 15, 2019, the world watched in horror. Now, as restoration efforts are well under way, it’s heartwarming and perhaps a little surprising that the vast majority of donors who have given money to repair it are American.
What is it about Notre-Dame that captures so many hearts across the Atlantic?
Notre-Dame Cathedral is an international icon of beauty and culture, to be sure. But there is something unique about the way so many Americans have responded to the tragedy.
It goes back to the special relationship the United States has had with France since its very beginning.
Way back in the 1700s, France allied with the US when almost no other country took the new nation seriously. French soldiers and money bolstered the fledgling republic. Without France, there would be no United States.
And honestly, the US has never forgotten it. France was our first friend, and centuries later, Americans remain totally obsessed with all things French.
Most Americans wouldn’t think of this early alliance as the reason for their Francophilia, of course. But it began there and has only blossomed in the centuries since.
On top of that, there’s a beautiful history with each nation supporting the other’s cultural monuments.
The Statue of Liberty was an 1884 gift from the French people, commemorating the alliance of France and the United States during the American Revolution. And in 1924, American business tycoon John D. Rockefeller pledged $1 million to rebuild the Reims cathedral, the castle and gardens at Versailles, and the palace of Fontainebleau after they were badly damaged in World War I.
Paris, in particular, captivates us as the world capital of romance. It’s not called the “City of Love” for nothing.
Many Americans cherish memories of trips to Paris with loved ones.
Sure enough, the donations to Notre-Dame’s restoration often came with heartfelt personal notes.
Most of all, Notre-Dame is a Christian emblem, one of the many stunningly gorgeous churches in historically Catholic France. Is it any wonder that the 23% of Americans who are Catholic opened their wallets along with their hearts in response to the tragedy?
The magic and wonder of Notre-Dame and Paris are so much more than anyone can describe. But in the many American donations to the restoration project, it’s wonderfully clear that the special friendship between France and the U.S. is alive and well. And the beauty of Catholicism, as Notre-Dame symbolizes, never ceases to capture hearts and minds around the world.