As Notre Dame Burned, Faith in the Church Held Strong

STORY BY LUIS VALENCIA
PHOTO COURTESY OF TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE

On Monday, April 15th a terrible tragedy occurred in one of the most beautiful cities in France. The beautiful and towering Notre Dame Cathedral was gutted by fierce flames that ravaged and destroyed the inner beauty of the cathedral. The world tuned into news stations and watched as more than 800 years of history were swallowed by flames taller than the Cathedral’s main spire. It was hard to think that on a random Monday in April, over 800 years of history was taken by fierce flames that left nothing but a cold feeling in the hearts of people around the world.

The Notre Dame Cathedral is a pivotal piece of history, given that it has survived years of wars and wildfires; therefore, its very discouraging to see the state it is in now. The gothic fashion of the cathedral is what made it so beautiful. On the inside of the cathedral, there were intricate windows with colors so beautiful one was in awe just from staring at them. Statues of gargoyles and religious entities covered the cathedral the look of them made tourists feel like the statues could fly away. When in conversation with FHSU professors, most of them seemed very concerned about one main aspect of the cathedral: the Rose Window. They talked about its beautiful colors and the way the light would shine through them.

It seems that the cathedral has affected many peoples lives as photos of the gothic beauty was spammed on every social media platform. The photos of the cathedral burning were almost too overwhelming to look at. Many Catholic students of Fort Hays watched as a building with so much religious history was scarred by flames and smoke. This week is a holy week, and many religious students were confused and scared when the cathedral started burning. Some students saw this as a test of faith. Matea Gregg, a graduating senior and member of the Catholic Disciples here in Hays, was heartbroken but knew that this was a test of her faith.

“I was so heartbroken to hear about the fire on Monday and I immediately began to pray as I watched the live streams on my phone,” Gregg said. “Notre Dame Cathedral is easily one of the most beautiful Catholic Churches in the world and from the moment you walk in you are immediately drawn into the presence of Christ who dwells there, body, blood, soul, and divinity.  Notre Dame glorified God with its beauty, but it also was a place that opened and converted many hearts.”

Although much of the original wooden roof and the cathedral’s spire were destroyed by th fire, many of the historic and religious artifacts and relics were saved before the fire could claim them.  

“I was relieved to hear the relics which included, one of the nails from the crucifixion, a piece of the true cross which Jesus was nailed, and the crown of thorns were recovered and are not damaged,” Gregg continued. “Those are things that can’t be replaced.  Seeing the photos of the crucifix and altar still standing surrounded by rubble and debris was very powerful and reminded me that as Christians we are a people of hope and the resurrection.”

With today being Good Friday and Easter Sunday this weekend, the greater Christian community is affected by such an iconic structure burning.

“Especially during Holy Week, this has shown me that no matter how devastating and horrific this fire was, the faith displayed by this gorgeous Cathedral will grow stronger in the hearts of all Christians, and I hope to carry that with me throughout this week,” Gregg said. “On Holy Thursday we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, which the Cathedral was built to house and to celebrate through the mass. On Good Friday we remember the crucifixion and like I mentioned before we will remember the cross that was still standing after the tragedy. And on Easter, we will celebrate Christ rising from the dead and will be filled with hope and joy.  This fire brought so many together and united the whole world that has been the most beautiful and hopeful part of this.”

The damage to the cathedral was severe, and when looking at the photos of the aftermath it felt almost like looking at a skeleton. I wondered how the citizens of France felt, some grew up with the cathedral watching over them. I also worried about those who had marked the cathedral as a place to one day visit. Where those hopes of visiting a monumental part of history lost due to the destructive fire? Overall, however, France has proven to be resilient.

Media outlets have reported that there are plans to restore the cathedral back to its former glory. This cathedral was important to the citizens of France and the world as a whole. As France mourns their beloved cathedral, here at Fort Hays we mourn as well.

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