(AP) – Pope Francis is offering his prayers that Notre Dame, the “architectural gem of a collective memory,” will once again be a shrine to the Catholic faith, a symbol of the French nation and a spiritual and architectural gift to humanity.
In a heartfelt note of condolences sent to Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit, Francis said Tuesday that the fire was particularly devastating given that it came during Holy Week, the somber days leading up to Easter during which Christians commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Francis wrote: “This catastrophe has gravely harmed a historic building. But I am aware that it has also affected a national symbol dear to the heart of Parisians and all French people in the diversity of their convictions. Because Notre Dame is the architectural gem of a collective memory, a place of gathering for great events, a witness of the faith and prayer of Catholics in the heart of the city.”
Francis praised the courage of the firefighters and invoked his blessings on the nation.
The chief architect of Cologne cathedral says it could take decades to repair the damage caused to the Notre Dame cathedral by a massive fire.
Peter Fuessenich, who oversees all construction work for the Gothic cathedral in the German city, told broadcaster RTL on Tuesday that “it will certainly take years, perhaps even decades, until the last damage caused by this terrible fire will be completely repaired.”
Cologne cathedral was heavily damaged during World War II and work to repair it is still ongoing more than 70 years later.
Fuessenich called the fire in Paris “a tragedy with a European dimension” as many churches and cathedrals across the continent were inspired by buildings in France. He said that “when the last stone was set in Notre-Dame, the first one was laid here in Cologne, and in this respect it affects us all very much.”
According to Fuessenich, the timbered roof of Cologne cathedral’s was replaced with an iron frame during the 19th century, meaning a fire there would be less devastating.