Posted on

Iconic cathedral brought ‘sense of comfort’

Iconic cathedral brought ‘sense of comfort’
Iconic cathedral brought ‘sense of comfort’
This is how the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris looked on March 23 during a visit by Crawford Countian Bree Tyler. Photo by Bree Tyler

A visit to the Notre Dame Cathedral wasn’t a priority for Crawford County’s Bree Tyler, despite the fact she’s been studying abroad at Harlaxton College in Grantham, England, since January. However, after last week’s fire at one of France’s most famous landmarks, she’s glad she did.
‘The Notre Dame Cathedral was one of my favorite places I visited,’ Tyler said. ‘Not only was the outside remarkably beautiful, so was the inside. The stained glass windows, the walls that felt like they would touch the sky and the way there were so many tourists there, yet I felt at peace was an incredible experience.
‘It was one place that I could have stayed at for hours,’ she said. ‘It brought a sense of comfort.’
Tyler visited the iconic landmark, built between the 12th and 14th centuries, on March 23 during a trip to Paris.
‘Each weekend, I have tried going to a different place,’ she said. ‘Paris was not on the top of my list of places to go, but that changed very quickly once I got there.’
Twenty-three days later, fire destroyed the iconic Gothic structure.
‘I was studying for an exam in the conservatory at my college when one of my friends came out holding her phone asking if I had heard the news,’ Tyler said. ‘As we searched for reasons and words, we sat quietly looking up different news reports and videos. I did not want to believe it was true.
‘I, like many others who have visited Notre Dame, had left love and tears in that cathedral,’ she said. ‘I could not believe that I had just been there weeks earlier and now I was watching the flames engulf the roof.’
Cheryl Bennett, the French teacher at Corydon Central High School, had visited the cathedral in October 2008 during a vacation with her sister during fall break.
‘The cathedral felt overwhelming,’ Bennett recalled last week. ‘I remember that when we were outside taking pictures, I overheard a tour guide talking about the bas-relief in the front of the cathedral and the events from the Bible depicted. I was mesmerized by the detail and thought that went into the work.
‘Walking around the inside as well as the outside you can see this detail in every part of the structure,’ she said. ‘Those who participated in the creation knew the Word of God and were serious about displaying it and its power. As you enter, the architecture of the cathedral is meant to draw your eyes upward toward God, and that is certainly what it does for the Christian observer.’
The fire, believed to have started on the roof at the center of the cathedral, broke out during the start of Holy Week, which ended on Easter Sunday.
Bennett learned of the fire from a fellow teacher, Kyle Jones.
‘He emailed that the cathedral had caught fire and to look at the news,’ she said. ‘One of the first images I saw was of the spire as it fell.
‘I felt that it was tragic, as did most of the world,’ Bennett said. ‘As a Christian, I saw more than history or a national monument. A world-renowned building where believers gathered to celebrate redemption was lost.’
Tyler said, ‘Hearing about any type of fire or any tragedy is awful, but finding a place of comfort in a building thousands of miles from home and hearing that it is on fire is heartbreaking.’
Funds in excess of hundreds of million of dollars have been pledged to help rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral.
‘I know the cathedral will never be the way it was, and I was one of the fortunate ones to see it before the fire, but I truly believe that, through the tragedy, we can see just how generous everyone has been,’ Tyler said. ‘This fire was terrible, yet many people have donated money and spread concerns.
‘This fire may have crumbled parts of the cathedral, but people are staying devoted to making Paris stay strong,’ she said. ‘Ironically, the love and comfort I felt standing in the cathedral is the same love and comfort that is coming from those helping hands after the fire. Notre Dame Cathedral has touched so many lives and will continue to do so by bringing strangers together for a common purpose: to make sure the place of comfort is restored.’