COLUMBUS-- Ohio State professor Karl Whittington teaches Gothic Architecture, and has visited Notre Dame a number of times himself and with his students.
He says the Notre Dame fire serves as a learning experience, and stresses the importance of protecting our shared cultural inheritance.
- Notre Dame cathedral means many things to many people, it’s a tourist attraction, world heritage site, architectural wonder, and a place of worship for the devout.
- Spectrum news spoke to religious officials, students and professors who all have ties to France and remain humble and hopeful after the tragedy.
- The re-building effort has already raised upwards of $1 billion dollars
“One of the reasons they began building stone vaults as you see in these Gothic buildings was to protect them from fire. But the buildings are still vulnerable. There's wood in all different parts of the structure. So as a historian I have to take the long view and say this kind of thing is inevitable, it's incredibly sad,” says Whittington.
While it appears many historically significant artifacts were salvaged, including this gold cross and alter, some centuries old sculptures may be gone forever.
“The treasury for example that holds the relic of the crown of thorns. Saint Louis the ninth's tunic was evacuated in time. There's a huge ring of 14th century sculptures surrounding the choir area around the altar and we don't know what happened to those yet,” says Whittington.
The Notre Dame fire was also an emotional experience for two Ohio State exchange students who grew up in and around Paris.
“Obviously to the world, Paris is the Eiffel Tower but its also Notre Dame, regardless of religion again. And it is very important that we can save this monument. Because you can see it from pretty much everywhere in Paris. Even though the Spire is down, it is important that the skyline of Paris stays the same,” says OSU student Tristan Relet-Werkmeister.
“It's just something that we thought that we thought was going to be here forever, and we just see it go up in flames. So it's kind of a shock. Even though, again I have no personal connection to it, I think as a French person, it's definitely part of your identity,” says OSU student Robin Couton.
New Columbus Bishop Robert Brennan says it’s particularly poignant in a tragic way to see the Notre Dame fire happening during Holy Week—the holiest week of the year for Catholics.
“We're already kind of drawn in to an attitude of prayer and devotion and this kind of strikes at the core when you see the fire like that and the destruction,” says Bishop Robert Brennan.
But Notre Dame has stood the test of time, eight centuries, a revolution and two world wars.
The rebuilding fundraising effort has netted almost $1-billion dollars and the cause has united people across the globe.
“Notre Dame has just stood there not only as a church on an island in Paris. But really its been so much apart of our culture for centuries. And the beauty of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, just like our own cathedral, kind of lifts us up, when you see beauty like that it raises your sights and you see the glory and the majesty of God,” says Bishop Brennan.