Notre Dame fire strikes the hearts of Kent community


Dominique Nottage at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, in July of 2017. 

Abigail Miller

As soon as smoke and flames were seen cascading out of the top of the Notre Dame cathedral late Monday afternoon in Paris, a universal cry of agony was called out by not only France, but the entire world.

After senior fashion merchandising major Dominique Nottage heard about the fire and saw the images of the cathedral burning, she was shocked.

“When I heard that it was on fire I went into a panic,” she said. “I hadn’t seen any pictures or videos yet so I had no idea. I immediately called my mom to see if she knew what was going on. I was absolutely devastated seeing the images. It’s 850 years old and has been a symbol of Paris longer than the Eiffel Tower, to see this landmark in that state is so upsetting.”

To many, the cathedral is a symbol of faith. Built in Paris, France, over 850 years ago, the cathedral is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and widely known as one of the oldest symbols of Catholicism that still stands today.

To Dominique Nottage, whose family practices Catholicism, the cathedral is as significant to her as the Vatican.

The first time I visited (Notre Dame) was in 2012 when I was 15,” Nottage said. “(Visiting) Notre Dame was literally the very first thing that we did after dropping off our suitcases at our hotel. My family is Catholic so not only was it a symbol of Paris, but of our faith. In my mind, this cathedral was up there with the Vatican in importance.”

In addition to the cathedral’s religious ties, it housed some of France’s most precious artifacts and architecture. However, due to Monday’s fire, many of the treasured pieces of art and construction at Notre Dame, such as the cathedral’s roof that included pieces of centuries-old trees, were destroyed.

In the many times senior communications major David Soukenik has visited Notre Dame, the art has always been one of the first things to catch his attention.

“There’s really nothing quite like it that I’ve been to while I was traveling through Europe,” he said. “You walk in there and the glass pane windows, the way the light hits the windows coming into the cathedral and to the base of it, is pretty amazing. To see the type of woodwork that’s in there is pretty incredible because they used trees back in 1150, 1200. To think about how old that is, it’s pretty neat.”

While the ashes of the fire still loom over the fourth arrondissement of Paris, the French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron has already vowed to rebuild the sacred cathedral.

We are the people of builders,” the Prime Minister wrote on Twitter Tuesday afternoon. “We have so much to rebuild… So yes, we will rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral, even more beautiful, and I hope that it will be completed within five years…”

Soukenik said that even though he doesn’t think they can rebuild Notre Dame back to what it once was, a post-fire restoration could be a chance for the cathedral to not only represent centuries of history but to look toward the future as well.

“I don’t even think that they’ll necessarily be able to replicate exactly how it was before but perhaps that’s not necessarily a bad thing,” he said. “There’s now an opportunity for people to rebuild it in a way that represents something old, but then also something new. It’s kind of like one of those coming out of the ashes stories.”

Abigail Miller is a feature writer. You contact her at [email protected].