Sophomore student at Mount Saint Mary’s University Hank Hoffman heard the news about Monday’s fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris over social media, and couldn’t believe the images he saw online.
“Shock, genuinely. I know as a catholic, and here at the Mount we have a very strong catholic community, seeing that on real time on the news it was- words cannot express,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman joins thousands across the world in shock and disbelief over the blazes that destroyed and toppled a 300-foot spire at the cathedral, which was undergoing $3.6 million renovations.
“Notre Dame has survived so much for so long: the World Wars, the Vikings- and just seeing that happen, seeing the flames, seeing the spire come down…I mean I think of myself as a tough guy but I probably would have shed a tear or two,” Hoffman explained.
Monsignor Andrew Baker at the campus seminary notes that millions, including those within the Catholic faith, have made pilgrimages to the sacred 800-year-old cathedral, taking in its famed gothic architecture that shines through gargoyles and stained glass windows.
“People have literally walked all over Europe and today travel all over the world to this site. The light comes through the beautiful stained glass windows, and that’s another feature particularly of Notre Dame. These beautiful rose windows bring multi-colored light inside the church,” Monsignor Baker explained.
French President Emmanuel Macron called for an international fundraiser for the reconstruction of the damages, and those abroad here in the United States aim to help out as much as they can.
“It is a suffering and it is devastating, but there is hope,” Baker added.
“I’m definitely sending my thoughts and prayers and if I ever have the opportunity to contribute in some way, I’ll do the best that I can,” Hoffman said.
French officials report the flames were completely extinguished Tuesday after burning for more than twelve hours.