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Nazareth history professor calls Notre Dame Cathedral fire 'incomprehensible'

Apr 16, 2019

Credit www.notredamedeparis.fr

A professor at Nazareth College said it’s incomprehensible to think about what was lost in the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral.

History professor Tim Thibodeau said he felt shock and disbelief watching the images of the burning building Monday.

"It’s just such an iconic landmark not only for the French people, the Parisians, but it’s an art treasure that essentially belongs to the whole world, and it’s on the same level as something like St. Peter's Basilica or any other iconic monument that’s instantly recognizable as a wonder of the world," Thibodeau said.

Thibodeau has been to the cathedral a couple times to study it, and even as a professional historian, he said he was moved.

"The first thing I did was look straight up, and the sense of awe that I’m looking at these ribbed vaulted ceilings,” he remembered. “It’s hard to imagine they were built 800 years ago. You’re looking up about 110 feet straight up."

He said not only is the physical structure irreplaceable -- they can’t use the same building techniques or the same materials -- but there’s also the psychological loss.

“It’s just devastating to a lot of people because they instantly can relate with it,” he said. “It’s an instantly identifiable image that anyone who’s been to France can connect with."

Thibodeau called this area of France “the cradle of Gothic architecture, university education” and the center of the city of Paris.