North Texans reflect on Notre Dame Cathedral after devastating fire

Notre Dame Cathedral holds a special place in the hearts of many North Texans and while each may find different significance, it's a deeply felt loss.

For hundreds of years, Notre Dame has been a focal point for religion, art and architecture — a beacon for people from around the world and North Texas. Some took time on Monday to reflect on memories of something they thought would always be there.

As flames devoured one of the world’s most iconic structures, Eric Ligon, UNT Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Design, stood nearby awe struck. He was in Paris for the first time, celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary.

“Across the Seine [River] we could feel the heat from the Cathedral burning,” Ligon said in a phone interview. “We never made it inside. The lines yesterday and today were really long. We thought we’ll go tomorrow. Now we won’t go tomorrow.”

Ligon says the crowd that gathered was eerily quiet.

“The people in the crowd described Notre Dame as the north star of Paris,” he said.

A feeling of helplessness in France and around the world as hundreds of years of history melted away.

“The medieval world has gone berzerk. It’s devastating. It’s a loss that can’t be replaced,” said UNT art history professor Mickey Abel. “It’s not just the building. The building is an archive for manuscripts and tapestries and garments that the priests wear.”

Father Tom Cloherty, the pastor at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Plano, toured Notre Dame just two weeks ago.

“Most of the people were not catholic but they understood what it meant as a sign of faith,” Fr. Cloherty said.

The French Gothic cathedral was still a place of worship that was especially important to Catholics — and what it has given them for 850 years.

“Just knowing that you stand where people for centuries have stood worshiping God just lets you know that you are not alone in life,” Cloherty said.