As heartbreaking as it is today, the thought came to me just now of a trip to St. Petersburg, Russia I took in the early 90s. We had traveled down the Volga River from Moscow to St Petersburg, and the highlight was, I believe, St Petersburg.
St. Petersburg, on the Neva River, the pride of the Tsars, was as beautiful as Moscow was drab. Even 75 years under the Communists could not completely extinguish its beauty. I have a book of prints I made, and one of these days I will have to scan them to post on the Net.
After 900 days of bombing and a siege from the Nazis, it was in ruins. They don’t know officially how many people died, mostly from starvation, but the number is close to a million. In just one city.
I remember visiting the site of some mass graves, where 500,000 people are buried.
Hitler was so confident of victory, he had invitations printed for a gala celebration in the Winter Garden of the Hotel Astoria.
Of course, the Nazis never conquered the city. But it was in ruins by the time they retreated.
On the outskirts of Leningrad – about 20 miles out – are some magnificent palaces. Czars such as Peter the Great and Catherine the Great had residences here.
Our guide told us something that surprised me at the time. The communists taught craftsmen the “old ways” of doing things, and over some years, rebuilt them from burned out hulks.
While I saw a lot of “Before Pictures” at the sites, in the time I have searched tonight I have seen very few. But picture every place you see today as blackened burned out hulks.
I had always believed that the Soviets wanted nothing to do with their past and Imperial Russia, and here they spent the time and money to rebuild these magnificent palaces.
Today you would never know that these palaces were ruins.
Notre Dame will be rebuilt, if not completed in some of our lifetimes.
update 04/16/19: Apparently the damage, while substantial, isn’t as bad as people feared.
The Notre-Dame from above. As it seem, the roof was practically melted, but most of. The vaulting held on and remained intact. The stained glass windows, the rose windows, the organ and the main altar only suffered minor damage. The church looks bad now, the damage is serious… But it could have been worse.
We have to keep praying. We have to keep asking God to preserve this sacred church and to give strength and will for the leaders to restore it into its original state. But we can praise God too – it seems, that the worst-case scenario was avoided and the Cathedral after all is saved. Seriously wounded, but saved.