‘It was heartbreaking’: French professor watches Notre Dame burn in her home of Paris

Local News

ASHLAND, Va (WRIC) — Parisians in Central Virginia are mourning yesterday’s fire at Notre Dame Cathedral. 

After 12 hours, firefighters were able to control the flames. The spire and roof were destroyed in the fire.

The historic cathedral holds more than just a religious meaning for those of Catholic faith. It’s a beacon of hope not only for the city of lights but for the world. 

Randolph Macon College French professor Dr. Sandrine Teixidor, grew up in Paris. She watched in horror for hours Monday as Norte Dame Cathedral went up in flames.

“It was heartbreaking,” Dr. Sandrine Teixidor said. “Could not believe it,” 

The church was undergoing restoration work when the fire began. Officials say right now the cause looks to be accidental. 

“Disbelief,” said Teixidor. “How could that happen? ‘I think it’s trying to see what’s coming next.”

The Paris skyline filled with smoke, hundreds outside watched as flames claimed the spire, sending it tumbling to the ground.

“Equate it to watching a family member suffer or a pet,” Teixidor said. “And I couldn’t stop watching because I did not want to miss one second of what was happening to Notre Dame.” 

The bell towers were spared. 

“Very emotional for people,” said Teixidor.  “They think that it’s their church. Even if they may not be very religious.”

For Teixidor, the building was more than just a church. She’s visited the cathedral nearly a hundred times. 

“Notre Dame is a cathedral but we call it Notre Dame like it’s a family member or a friend,” said Teixidor. Growing up I would go there for Christmas, Easter. I would go there just to pray.” 

Paris officials say at this time the organ inside the cathedral appears to have survived. 

“It’s a symbol of community,” Teixidor said. “It’s a definite symbol of the French identity.”

France’s president vowed to rebuild the cathedral along with several business owners. He said he hopes to do it within five years. 

Professor Teixidor says those acts of generosity offer hope for the future of the building and for Paris. 

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