My friend Liz Nice is wrong about Notre Dame - it must be rebuilt

Flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris on Monday. (AP Photo/Thibault C

Flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris on Monday. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus) - Credit: AP

James Marston says Notre Dame stands for something more important than money

As Liz says, 'I hated seeing Notre Dame burning to the ground.

I went there once, many years ago, marvelled in its beauty, and of course understand what it represents.

It is a proud symbol of France; a great nation that loves art and culture and has the most rousing national anthem in the world'.

I also love France. I am also a Christian and happy to stand up and say so.

The sight of this great building burning bright just half an hour away from total destruction, the thought of the firefighters of Paris battling to save an international icon, the tearful, prayerful, and musical response of the crowds drawn to watch the horror, the determination to rebuild, even the somewhat hyperbolic reaction of those of us in the press, reminds us of not only of a deep vestigial Christianity in western European culture but also our overwhelming – if not always recognised need - for holiness and the sacred in our lives.

Notre Dame de Paris, has been a sacred and holy place for centuries, where people have sought and encountered God. To the glory of God and as an expression of Christian faith is why the building was built in the first place. It may have developed into something like the French national church but it was a Holy place first. Indeed it was the holiness of Notre Dame to which the French turned at their moment of liberation.

It is this holiness of Notre Dame and the historical connection to the faithful that have gone before is why it is such an important building for France and why it has international appeal as well. Whether or not they know it those 12 million visitors a year to Notre Dame aren't just tourists, they are pilgrims as well, drawn to a building which speaks of more than just history, culture, architecture, and tradition.

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Holiness transcends national boundaries. Holiness also invites people into faith and from faith in the radical gospel of Jesus Christ comes action.

It is time and time again through this faith that we are driven to concern ourselves with our broken world of famine, hunger, war, loneliness, poverty and disease. Notre Dame speaks loud and clear of Jesus' central message – love thy neighbour – and if we did that the world would be a very different place.

Let it be rebuilt, not just for the people of France but for all those searching for the truth of God. Let the message of hope and salvation ring out once more from Our Lady of Paris – the world needs it more than ever.