Video of Notre Dame Cathedral, the nearly 900-year-old landmark in Paris, France, engulfed in flames has been seen worldwide. According to news reports, the iconic spire on top of the cathedral has collapsed in the fire. No deaths have been reported so far, according to the Associated Press, but Parisians and people around the globe are mourning what looks like extreme devastation of the cathedral.
Local realtor Angela Clark was just at Notre Dame earlier this month. When friends texted her this morning as news broke of the cathedral fire, Clark said she was broken-hearted.
“The architecture of the cathedral is part of what makes Paris special,” Clark said. “To be able to touch the stone, that’s been there since the 14th century.”
Clark said Notre Dame Cathedral was under extensive renovations while she was there, noting scaffolding around the building. Clark spoke to friends Monday that live in Paris, who said they believe the fire was a result of that renovation.
“I am praying that the relics inside the cathedral are able to be saved. They are so important to our next generations,” Clark said, mentioning that she was able to view the Crown of Thorns, believed to be the wreath placed on the head of Jesus Christ at his crucifixion, which is preserved at Notre Dame.
Daviess County Social Studies teacher Steve Easley has taken two groups of students and their families on educational European trips to London and Paris. On his first trip in 2012, Easley had around 15 travel with him. On his next trip in 2016, he had 87. One of the landmarks the groups visited was Notre Dame.
“It’s a place so beautiful, so imposing,” Easley said. “It’s sad to see it in flames.”
Easley is planning another trip to London and Paris in the spring of 2020. He said a student approached him Monday morning asking if they would still be able to attend. And while he told the student, yes, he said it won’t be the same if Notre Dame is no longer standing.
“I can’t imagine going to Paris without seeing Notre Dame,” Easley said. “This is the feeling you get when an important leader passes away.”
Father Larry Hostetter, president of Brescia University, took to social media to offer his prayer to first responders and any possible victims. He talked to Owensboro Times about the significance of the cathedral to both history and the Catholic faith.
“The fire and destruction of Notre Dame Cathedral (Our Lady Cathedral) in Paris, France is tragic on so many levels,” Hostetter wrote to Owensboro Times on Monday. “Over 800 years old, it represents the faith and devotion of countless men and women who have contributed their artistic and technical talents to creating a solemn place of worship. Engineers, architects, masons, artists, glaziers, woodworkers and theologians have all contributed to making this church one of the most iconic symbols of faith in all of Christianity. In some ways the destruction of Notre Dame highlights the pain and suffering of so many throughout the world that we easily forget about, victims of famine, war and injustice. While we are right to feel heartbreak and sorrow for the magnitude of this tragedy, we know that stone, wood and glass are transient. What is not transient is the the human soul and the faith that motivates us to create such beauty. Notre Dame will be rebuilt as it has been multiple times over its 800 year history. I hope we can put the same effort into creating a more just and compassionate world.”