April 3/16, 2019
St. Nic­etas of Medikion

To the Faith­ful of the Dio­cese of Chica­go & Mid-Amer­i­ca:

Archbishop Peter of  Chicago and Mid-America

Arch­bish­op Peter of Chica­go and Mid-Amer­i­ca

On Mon­day, April 2/15, 2019, the Parish Cathe­dral of the Moth­er of God, “Notre Dame” (Our Lady of Paris), was grave­ly dam­aged by a cat­a­stroph­ic fire. Many of our parish­ioners have vis­it­ed Paris, and even those who have not vis­it­ed are well aware of the cathe­dral from west­ern lit­er­a­ture, film, and oth­er cul­tur­al expres­sions. Like­ly by now all have wit­nessed the video of the destruc­tion of the cathe­dral and have been effect­ed in some way by it.

It is well known that France, along with much of the rest of West­ern Europe, has become more sec­u­lar and less reli­gious over the last decades. Nonethe­less, it behooves us to recall that Notre Dame was a cathe­dral built in hon­or of the Moth­er of God, and although the cathe­dral was con­se­crat­ed after the Great Schism, France was once a great Ortho­dox coun­try, pro­vid­ing such uni­ver­sal saints to the Holy Church as St Genevieve of Paris, St Ire­naeus of Lyon, and St Vin­cent of Lerins. It is clear that this her­itage has not been ful­ly lost. Many risked their lives to res­cue price­less relics of the Uni­ver­sal Church from the cathe­dral, include a por­tion of the crown of thorns placed on our Lord.

We would nev­er wish such a tragedy on any­one, but this tragedy has tak­en place. It can­not be undone. May it be for the sal­va­tion of all the French peo­ple, that in their mourn­ing of their loss the spark of faith may be rekin­dled in them, and that one day France will again be a shin­ing light of Ortho­doxy, pro­vid­ing new saints to the Holy Church on par with her great saints of the past.

My sin­cere con­do­lences to all who are suf­fer­ing at this great loss.

With Love in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Peter, Arch­bish­op of Chica­go & Mid-Amer­i­ca