Bismarck area residents react to Notre-Dame Cathedral fire

The fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and its aftermath left many around the world speechless and heartbroken.

Even here in North Dakota, a state where Catholicism is deeply entrenched.

“The whole area of Paris will not be the same with the loss of this structure,” said Bismarck area resident Pat Herbel. 

It’s an emotional time for the 82-year-old Herbel. She was born into the Catholic faith and got a chance to see the medieval structure, which she calls a holy place.

“I can still remember going in and seeing the large window — really struck me so much. And just to walk in and see the monumental part of it as you look up to the top of the ceiling,” said Herbel.  

Despite the loss of the iconic spire at the top of the Cathedral and the collapse of the roof, the structure, including its two front towers, have been saved.

Also rescued: Most of the priceless artifacts, paintings, and sculptures inside.

Many members of the Catholic community say the fire hasn’t diminished the value of what Notre Dame Cathedral is and means to the faithful.

“First of all, I hope it has not been done by some revolutionary people that might have done that. I don’t think that is the case, but so be it. This is still a sacred place,” said area resident Albert Wolf.

The University of Mary, the only Catholic university in the state, released a brief statement after the fire.

“The University of Mary community shares in the shock and grief of so many across the world at the news of the devastating fire at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.  Every year, students from our Rome campus study for a week in Paris and visit the Cathedral,” said Monsignor James P. Shea, University of Mary President.

As for Herbel and members of the Catholic community, restoring this nearly 900-year-old piece of history is important.

“I do a lot of praying,” said Herbel. 

Hundreds of millions of dollars have already been pledged to help rebuild the historic landmark.

About 13 million visitors come to the Notre Dame Cathedral each year.

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