Marshall students mourn with Paris


Thierry Mallet | Associated Press

Flames and smoke rise from the blaze as the spire starts to topple on Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Monday, April 15.


The week leading up to Easter is a week intended for celebration, service and symbolic rebirth for those who identify with Catholic beliefs, but this week has been shaken by the Notre Dame Cathedral fire in Paris, France.

The Notre Dame Cathedral caught fire Monday around 6:50 p.m. Central European Summer Time. The cause of the fire is said to be an accident, however “firefighters and officials are assessing damages,” according to USA Today. 

When the news broke, many individuals were devastated, however this tragedy feels a little more personal to those of Catholic identity. While the Notre Dame Cathedral is an iconic sight for some, it holds a sacred place in Catholicism as “the House of God and the abode of men,” according to the Cathédrale Notre-Dame De Paris’ website.

“My initial thoughts when I began to see just how bad it was, it was sadness,” said Patrick O’Leary, former president of the Marshall Catholic Newman Center. “This was an over 800-year-old cathedral that, just below the Vatican in Rome, is one of the most historic churches in the world.”

The Notre Dame Cathedral has held historical and religious prominence for centuries, according to  O’Leary. 

“People have to realize that this cathedral stood during the Black Plague, Renaissance, French Revolution, German occupation, during World War II, and so much more,” O’Leary said. “For that reason, to see videos of it in flames to the extent it was should be sad for Catholics and all people, in my opinion.”

For some, Catholicism is a religion and way of life passed down from generation to generation. Kaylee Kimberlin, a junior at Marshall and life-long Catholic, said the event hits home.

“My first reaction, honestly, was of my grandfather,” Kimberlin said. “He’s played a big role in my vision of the Catholic faith and for him, his Catholicism comes from his parents, who’s beliefs I guess you could say were formed in a very formidable country for Catholicism. To a lot of people, I’m sure, these old churches are just that, but to us, these buildings are symbols not just of our faith but the hard work that went into them, and it’s a symbol of our faith.”

With it being the week before Easter, or as Christians refer to it, the “Holy Week,” the emotional wounds from the fire may be that much more sensitive, according to O’Leary. 

“We are now in Holy Week, which, as Catholics, is really the biggest week of the calendar year. Through this week, we remember and celebrate Christ’s Last Supper, passion, death and resurrection,” O’Leary said. “I think Notre Dame brings extra solemn to this, as inside are relics that are believed to be the crown of thorns Christ was made to wear and part of the cross on which Jesus was crucified. While the cathedral was not completely destroyed, those are just more reminders to how important this week is to our faith.”

While the fire has officially been contained, individuals are still feeling the aftershock effects. Donations for the renovations of the Notre Dame Cathedral have already started pouring in. 

Trey Delida can be contacted at [email protected]