When the Notre Dame Cathedral caught fire April 15, 2019, several PLNU students posted to their social media sharing about the experience they had when they visited Notre Dame and its significance to the rest of the world.
Sophomore education major, Sophia Malak, is currently studying abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France, and visited the Notre Dame Cathedral two months before the fire. This was her fourth visit.
“I think the French are looking forward to the next chapter in the life of the cathedral. It gets to grow and improve, but it’s been amazing to see how the French have come together as a nation because of it. It’s brought a new sense of community which is what the church aims to bring,” said Malak.
Junior literature major, Amy Ely, also posted a picture on Instagram of her standing outside of the Notre Dame Cathedral in September 2018 when she was studying abroad. Her caption showed empathy for the Parisian community saying that “[her] prayers go out to beautiful Paris.”
“I’d read lots of books about cathedrals and Notre Dame was always mentioned, and going there I realized just how special it was. It’s one of those places that feels spiritual and so connected with the past,” said Ely.
PLNU Emerita of French and Literature, Hadley Wood, teaches her classes completely in French. She held discussions in her French classes about the fire but felt that the conversations were limited because of the small vocabulary that her students have. But Wood still believes that her students were concerned and cared for the building.
“This is a very serious wounding but it is not a death. I think that sharing on social media whatever personal meaning, inspiration, and sense of holiness you derived from your time in that building would be very meaningful. It in fact then says that this building means something to people who come and see it,” said Wood.
Wood was also touched by how quickly the news spread about the fire throughout the world. She expressed that when people read the news “they felt French.”
The fire burned the roof of the cathedral and the spire collapsed, but many people are looking forward to how the French choose to rebuild the top of the cathedral.
“It’s traumatic to see a part of your history burn right in front of you. But one of the best things about cathedrals is that they’re are supposed to grow and improve with time,” said Malak.