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levy34_FABIEN BARRAUAFPGetty Images_notre dame Fabien Barrau/AFP/Getty Images

Ode to Our Lady of Europe

The looping images of Notre Dame being consumed by fire have evoked an outpouring of emotions and shared memories the world over. Looking ahead, the tragedy must be channeled into the effort not only to rebuild the cathedral, but also to protect and defend Europe's cultural and political legacy.

BERLIN – As I write this from Berlin, I am prostrate before the images of fire, devastation, and ash engulfing Notre-Dame de Paris – Our Lady of Paris. She is a treasure of civilization, both for those who believe in heaven and for those who do not. She represents the Europe of beauty, of holy hopes, of greatness and gentility. Like you, like everyone, I am heartbroken.

The tragedy invokes a slew of memories. Victor Hugo’s immortalization of the cathedral in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, of course, comes to mind. So, too, does the verse of Louis Aragon:

Nothing is as strong, not fire, not lightning,

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