Tag Archives: Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame Faces a Dangerous “Game” of Pick-Up Sticks

Can you imagine a giant game of pick-up sticks with 50,000 tubes of steel scaffolding? Notre Dame workers still face a difficult and dangerous challenge to stabilize the 800 year-old cathedral.

After this short update, there’s a children’s “stained glass” art project to remind us what an important legacy Gothic churches have given us.

On April 26, 2019, we watched in horror, as Notre Dame’s spire leaned, then crashed, all against a wall of flame that heavily damaged the roof.

Notre Dame crossing before the fire, author photo

What is perhaps worse, and not that well-known, is that the intense heat of the fire also melted and welded together scaffolding that had been erected over Notre Dame’s crossing and spire in order to do planned restoration of the spire.

This twisted mass of steel scaffolding still sits over the crossing.  (the “crossing” is where the transepts “cross” the nave, giving most Gothic cathedrals the shape of a cross)

In this photo taken in the fall of 2018, you can see the beginnings of the scaffolding going up around the crossing. It eventually enclosed the crossing and the spire.

That old scaffolding weighs a whopping 250 tons, and  threatens the vaults or arches that held up the roof and, therefore, the stability of the entire cathedral.

So before any restoration begins, the old scaffolding must be removed.

Here’s a link to The Art Newspaper with recent pictures    https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/notre-dame-enters-a-new-and-high-risk-phase-in-its-restoration

Here’s the strategy to remove the twisted maze of steel:

  •      Wrap 3 bands of steel around the whole cathedral to help stabilize it.
  •      Erect cranes and new scaffolding above the crossing so workers can be lowered into the mass of melted tubing. Like in a game of pick-up sticks, they must analyze each section before they remove it, to prevent large sections of the old scaffolding falling. If that happens, workers don’t just lose a turn—the cathedral could suffer irreparable damage.

Here’s the good news:

  •      In the photos you can see that, thanks to the early heroic work of firefighters and the continuing work of many others, Notre Dame still stands.
  •      Its flying buttresses were saved, along with its priceless and stunning stained glass windows.


And here’s a “stained glass” art project for children to do as we watch and pray for those workers who will risk great danger in the ongoing effort to save Notre Dame.  (this is a project for older elementary children or for younger ones with help with cutting)


  • Sketchbook or paper for exploring ideas and making patterns
  • Black construction or cardstock paper
  • Pencil, colored pencils, ruler, scissors, glue
  • Colored tissue paper
  • Waxed paper (waxed paper keeps your project from sticking to things as you work)


Tips: It’s hard to see pencil on the black paper, so use a light colored pencil, such as yellow. Make all pencil marks on one side only of your black paper. It will be the back of the stained glass design.

1. Experiment with designs in a sketch book or on white paper

2. Draw a one-inch frame around the black paper



3. Cut a piece of white paper to fit the inner square, then fold the paper and draw and cut out a heart. The heart must touch the outer frame in several places.



4. Draw your design, then refold your heart and cut out the sections that will be in color.5. Place the white heart pattern over the center black square and trace around the cut out sections.6. Remove and make any needed adjustments. (I found that my spaces weren’t large enough, so I enlarged these. As long as your marks are on the back, they won’t show in the end.7. Cut out the black shapes that will be covered with colored tissue paper.  Keep your cut out shapes as patterns for cutting the tissue paper.8. Choose your color scheme (this was hard for me. I wanted to use all the colors I had, But this can lead to a design that is too busy! So after some sketches, I chose warm colors with some repetition here and there, but you might choose cool colors, like the blues with just a little red in this window from Sainte Chapelle. Or…

Sainte Chapelle, Paris, author photo


York Minster, author photo

choose primary colors as in this  window from York Minster.



    9.For each color, trace around the black cut out shapes, leaving a half inch margin for gluing.





Before gluing, place your black paper face down on a sheet of waxed paper. If the wax paper gets too gluey, replace it so glue doesn’t get on the front of your project.

10. On the back of your black paper, spread a thin line of glue and carefully place your tissue paper shape over the opening. It takes a light touch with the tissue paper and just a little glue (I rubbed the line of glue into a thin, smooth layer before applying the tissue paper)

11. Continue this process until all the empty places are covered with tissue paper and let dry.

Molly says, “Voila!” French for “There you are!” (she’s using French because they built the first Gothic cathedrals)






Now you have a stained glass design you can use for a card or display in a window so the sunlight can bring in that beautiful light that Abbot Suger of Saint Denis called, “somewhere between heaven and earth” that still fills Gothic cathedrals today! And we hope will someday again fill Notre Dame!

What are your thoughts about the challenges ahead for Notre Dame?


Sign up to receive my posts! The next few will explore the beauty and history of another great Gothic cathedral and provide some lessons to help teachers and children explore the history and architecture of these great churches, which are a testimonial to the Christian faith of those who built them long ago.





On the Trail of Monet’s Cathedrals and Haystacks: Devotional

interior, Gothic cathedral, author photo

Stone—heavy, durable, hard to carve into blocks or statues. Part of a Gothic cathedral, though, it can soar to great heights, as well as form thin, decorative tracery around rose windows.

Chartres, one of three rose windows, author photo









Notre Dame de Paris, flying buttresses, author photo before the fire

Built all over Europe in the Middles Ages, these vast churches have defied wars, storms, and fires, as we’ve so recently seen with Notre Dame in Paris! Inside, its stone columns still run up and fan out to someday support a new vaulted ceiling. Outside, Notre Dame’s flying buttresses still arch back against the cathedral and will again, we hope, counter the outward thrust of a new roof.

Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, author photo


Thinner stone walls could hold huge windows of stained glass, opening up these cathedrals to a beautiful light that some have called heavenly.

The stained glass and statues helped generations of mostly illiterate people learn the story of redemption.


When Monet painted the Rouen cathedral series,

Rouen Cathedral, Facade and the Tour d’Albane, Gray Weather, Claude Monet, Rouen Museum

the cathedral had stood solidly in that same spot for over 700 years! So he was able to return after a year to finish the series.







Hay—light, perishable, blown to and fro by the wind. It grows for a season and is then easily cut and formed into a plump haystack to dry. Although necessary for feeding livestock, hay stacks don’t soar toward God or let in heavenly light to tell God’s story.

detail of haystack painting by Monet, author photo

They aren’t permanent either. Monet began his haystack series in the fall, but continued so long into the winter that the farmer needed the hay to feed his cattle! Monet had to pay the farmer to wait while he finished his paintings. 

Imagine that farmer walking away fingering the francs in his hand, but shaking his head over the strange ways of artists!

So if asked which has more spiritual worth, a cathedral or a haystack, most would choose the cathedral.

Yet in the summer of 1806 the prayers of five Williams College students did soar up out of a haystack to God and helped begin the American mission’s movement that sent 1000s of men and women to spread the gospel throughout the world. There had been recent Christian revivals in America under George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, and others, but up to this time, no one had considered taking the gospel to other parts of the world.

But Samuel Mills, a student at Williams College, had begun to pray about it. And on a Saturday afternoon in August he and four other students gathered in a field off campus to discuss and pray about missions to foreign lands. Williams College is in the postcard-pretty Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. Vibrant autumn foliage soon gives way to winter snows, so by August haystacks begin to dot those fields around the town and college.

That August Saturday in 1806 a thunderstorm rolled down out of the mountains and lightning crackled over the fields, sending the five students under a haystack for shelter. They continued praying, and the Haystack Prayer Meeting, as it came to be called, continued weekly after that.

Within just a few years, Mills, along with other students, had helped encourage the founding of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions which sent the first American missionaries to India in 1812. One of those, Adoniram Judson, was a friend of Mills from when they both attended Andover Theological Seminary. Mills also help found the American Bible Society and The United Foreign Missionary Society.

Monet made beautiful paintings of the fleeting, superficial changes that light brings to haystacks and cathedrals, but the objects aren’t really changed, and even stone cathedrals don’t last forever.

But when God’s light comes, it can even transform a haystack into a cathedral in which His heavenly light illumines and leads regular people, like college students and us, to take the gospel light to our neighbors, and around the world.

Then these people of God become temples of the Holy Spirit, and they will live forever!

Are there people in your neighborhood or others you keep in touch with who need to receive the light of the gospel?


Molly is taking a much deserved break from photo shoots, but if you sign up for  Kathythepicturelady posts, you’ll soon see some of the funnier photos from her Molly-in-France series!

The next post will be an Impressionist-inspired kid’s art project for Mother’s Day. Don’t miss it!