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Fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral Leads to Expressions of Heartbreak Across the World

Category: Europe,World

Lindsey Ellis, who visited the cathedral in 2017 to make a YouTube video about the film and the Victor Hugo novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” wrote on Twitter: “You can’t replace an 800-year-old rose window. You can’t replace original technological innovations.”

In an interview, Ms. Ellis said the fire had hit her particularly hard because of her research on Hugo, whose novel — published in 1831, when the cathedral was in disrepair — helped inspire significant renovations to the building, including to its spire and flying buttresses, and ushered in a new era of historical preservation.

“In Hugo’s eyes it was the summation of human ingenuity,” Ms. Ellis said. “Hugo’s idea was the building will outlast the time it exists in, and that’s just not true anymore.”

For several years, Carolyn O’Neal, 74, of Lake Forest, Ill., traveled to Notre-Dame with her mother and two sisters to pay tribute to her father, who died in 1984.

Inside, Ms. O’Neal’s mother would light a candle for him, and they would all sit in a pew facing one of the rose windows and remember him. When Ms. O’Neal’s mother died in 2002, Ms. O’Neal and her sisters continued the tradition, now for both their parents.

“When I heard of today’s shocking and terrible news, those memories of our special time when we honored our parents loomed softly in my mind,” she said, calling the visits. “spiritual and not religious.”

Andrew Glaze, 27, of Jackson, Miss., visited Notre-Dame on Sunday with his wife, and said in an interview that he was astounded by its beauty. “It’s not just a building,” he said. In trying to think of an American analogue to the cathedral’s status in France, the closest he had come was the Statue of Liberty.

“It’s really kind of surreal that you’re standing on top of something that’s been around for hundreds of years, and we caught it the day before it caught fire.” he said. “Maybe people aren’t going to be able to go ever again.”

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