The images from the burning of Notre Dame provoke the same sort of heart-heavy dread as the 9/11 images. The beauty of the sun-shiny day contrasting with the conflagration; the feeling that the world has irrevocably changed for the worse. Loss, sadness.

It feels like we’re witnessing the end of Christianity and Western Civilization. Notre Dame is irreplaceable. No tower can be built in its stead. There will only be a time before and after Notre Dame.

Perhaps this sentiment seems melodramatic. I don’t think so. Look at how the world has changed after 9/11. Look at the civil liberties we’ve lost. We can’t travel without being molested. We worry in the back of our minds at every large gathering. Unthinkable violence is now thinkable, and even routine. We’re more callous to it and tired of it. Terrorism is a part of life in the West. The consequences of terrorism, have shaped all thoughts. Every bad thing that happens, we hope it’s not terrorism. Too often, it is.

How to convey Notre Dame’s cultural impact? It’s the heart of France. It’s a religious and artistic monument. It’s a place of worship. It’s iconic. And it’s gone.

The symbolism can’t be denied. This is the first day of Holy Week. If this fire was purposefully set, the arsonist couldn’t have picked a more perfect time.

As a measure of how little news this made, upon a bit of digging, I found that churches across France have been desecrated in the previous weeks. From Voice of Europe:

Since the beginning of 2019, France has seen a torrent of attacks which have included arson, vandalism, and desecration of a number of its historic Catholic churches.

The defacers have torn down crosses, knocked down tabernacles, smashed statues, and have destroyed the Eucharist, igniting fears of a rise in widespread anti-Catholic sentiment across the country.

On Sunday the 17th of March, just following midday mass, the historic Church of St. Sulpice in Paris was set ablaze, Newsweek reported. Although nobody was injured, French authorities are currently still looking into the attack, which firefighters have attributed to arson.

Did you know about this? I didn’t. More from Breitbart:

In Lavaur, in the southern department of the Tarn, the village church was assaulted by young men, who twisted one arm of a representation of the crucified Christ to make it appear that he was making an obscene gesture.

In the peripheries of Paris, in the department of Yvelines, several churches have suffered profanations of varying importance, in Maisons-Laffitte and in Houilles.

Although commentators have been reluctant to attach a particular religious or cultural origin to the profanations, they all share an evident anti-Christian character.

In recent months, anti-Semitic gangs have desecrated Jewish cemeteries, signing their actions with swastikas. In the case of the desecration of Catholic churches, the vandalism has spoken for itself: ridicule of the figure of Christ on the cross and desecration of major altars.

The Catholic hierarchy has kept silent about the episodes, limited themselves to highlighting that anti-Christian threat and expressing hope that politicians and police will get to the bottom of the crimes.

Reports indicate that 80 percent of the desecration of places of worship in France concerns Christian churches and in the year 2018 this meant the profanation of an average of two Christian churches per day in France, even though these actions rarely make the headlines.

In 2018, the Ministry of the Interior recorded 541 anti-Semitic acts, 100 anti-Muslim acts, and 1063 anti-Christian acts.

It seems that Notre Dame being purposefully burned would not be out of the question. France is troubled and the church and political leaders seem to be in denial.

The cause of the fire will be found later. The results will be long-lasting and devastating.

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