By David Fong
TROY — As flames engulfed the historic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris Monday, the world wept.
For some local residents who have previously visited the religious landmark and 12th-century architectural marvel, the pain hit particularly close to home.
Just last year, Troy resident Jennifer Palombi visited the cathedral with her son, Noah, a sophomore at Troy High School.
“When the Troy High School marching band visited London last year, my son and I extended our stay in order to visit additional European capitals,” Palombi said. “In the two weeks that we were there, the two most remarkable buildings we visited were Westminster Abbey and the Cathedral at Notre Dame. Both overwhelmed with a sense of history that you simply can’t get in any building in the Americas.
“But while Westminster Abbey was most remarkable for the things and the people that were in it — how can you fully appreciate the architecture when you’re standing at the graves of Chaucer, Newton, Elizabeth I? — the experience of being in Notre Dame was profound simply for the building itself. It’s difficult to describe what it feels like to be in a church so old and so incredibly grand, but we lingered with the worshippers and just took it all in for much longer than we had intended. I read a comment on the coverage of the fire from a man who said, ‘Well, at least it’s just the roof that burned,’ and all I could think was, ‘This man has never been there.’ No one who has experienced Notre Dame firsthand could think of this as any less than one of the greatest losses of our time.”
According to Associated Press reports, the blaze collapsed the cathedral’s spire and spread to one of its landmark rectangular towers, but Paris fire chief Jean-Claude Gallet said the church’s structure had been saved after firefighters managed to stop the fire spreading to the northern belfry. The cause of the blaze remained unknown at press time.
Local resident Karen Eberle visited the cathedral two years ago.
“We visited this beautiful cathedral in March 2017,” she said. “It was a Sunday morning so we sat in the back and attended part of their worship service before exploring the inside of this beautiful building. The music sounded wonderful, but unfortunately we could not understand what was said due to not knowing French.
“I remember all the art work and beauty throughout the building, especially the stained glass. But what impressed me the most was when I learned that this cathedral was built by volunteers. Most of them knew they would not live long enough to see the final results of their hard labor, but they had the long term goal of creating a spectacular cathedral for future generations to enjoy.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong