Onlookers around the world mourned with the French as their 856-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral was devastated by fire Monday.
“It is like losing a member of one’s own family,” Pierre Guillaume Bonnet, a 45-year-old marketing director told The New York Times. “For me there are so many memories tied up in it.”
“So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!” President Donald Trump tweeted in reaction to the fire before adding hours later, “God bless the people of France!”
Approximately 500 firefighters worked for nearly five hours to put out the fire and at 11 p.m. Paris time, fire chief, Jean-Claude Gallet announced that the structure had been “saved and preserved as a whole” the Times reported. About two-thirds of the roof however was destroyed.
“The worst has been avoided even though the battle is not completely won,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in a solemn speech on the fire Monday night. He vowed the cathedral would be rebuilt.
“This is the place where we have lived all of our great moments, the epicenter of our lives,” he said. “It is the cathedral of all the French.”
The global landmark that was built in the 12th and 13th centuries attracts about 30,000 people a day and around 13 million people a year the New York Times said. For centuries France’s kings and queens were also married and buried there.
For modern day Roman Catholics, a fire during Holy Week and just six days before Easter Sunday could not have come at a worse time.
“It’s apocalyptic,” Eleanor Batreau, 45, who organizes pilgrimages to Lourdes and sometimes works at Notre-Dame said. “It reminds me of Dresden burning. I’m a Catholic, and Notre-Dame is a symbol of Mary.”
While mourning the fire, former President Barack Obama expressed hope the Notre Dame would rise again from the ashes in a tweet
“Notre Dame is one of the world’s great treasures, and we’re thinking of the people of France in your time of grief. It’s in our nature to mourn when we see history lost – but it’s also in our nature to rebuild for tomorrow, as strong as we can,” he wrote.
“My heart goes out to Paris. Notre Dame is a symbol of our ability as human beings to unite for a higher purpose—to build breathtaking spaces for worship that no one person could have built on their own. I wish France strength and shared purpose as they grieve and rebuild,” wrote Hillary Clinton.
“The majesty of Notre Dame—the history, artistry, and spirituality—took our breath away, lifting us to a higher understanding of who we are and who we can be. Being here in Paris tonight, my heart aches with the people of France. Yet I know that Notre Dame will soon awe us again, Michelle Obama added to her husband’s comments on the fire.