Local leaders are responding with prayers and reminders that “Spirit” outlasts material things following a devastating blaze that heavily damaged Notre-Dame, a Roman Catholic cathedral in Paris, France, that is a landmark of world art and architecture.

Archbishop Wilton Gregory of the Atlanta Roman Catholic Archdiocese offered prayers in a written statement and described Notre-Dame as “a treasure for the Catholic Church, for European history and culture, and for the world of art.”

The cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris, France, as it appeared before the fire. (Madhurantakam via Wikipedia.)

The April 15 fire at the over 800-year-old cathedral came during Holy Week, a Christian observance leading up to Easter Sunday, a celebration of the faith’s belief that Jesus returned to life after being executed on the cross. Echoing the theme of resurrection, French President Emmanuel Macron in televised remarks promised that Notre-Dame will be rebuilt and rise again.

Notre-Dame has wide-ranging cultural influence as everything from a local Parisian landmark to the setting of Victor Hugo’s immensely popular novel “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.” Its soaring architecture and enormous stained glass windows are staples of art history textbooks, and it hosted such historical events as the coronation of French Emperor Napoleon I. As a religious landmark, it is home to several relics that Catholics believe to be items from the crucifixion, among other unique artifacts and artworks.

The cathedral of Notre-Dame on fire on April 15. (LeLaisserPasserA38 via Wikipedia, Creative Commons license)

Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory

“At the beginning of Holy Week, the people of Paris have been asked to embrace a very heavy cross with the fire at their beloved cathedral. Notre-Dame is a treasure for the Catholic Church, for European history and culture, and for the world of art. We praise God that apparently there is no loss of life in this tragedy. Paris would not be Paris without Notre-Dame.

“This iconic church is a bookmark of history and a sacred place where Catholics have prayed for almost nine centuries. The Church of the Archdiocese of Atlanta sends our French brothers and sisters our prayers and closeness in faith. May the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection strengthen them as we celebrate these mysteries this week. May Mary, the Mother of God, bless Paris and all those who hold this church as an icon of faith.”

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms

The mayor whose city’s symbol is a phoenix rising from the ashes of wartime fires commented on social media.

“When powerful yet earthly symbols like the Notre-Dame Cathedral are weakened, may we remember and rejoice that the Spirit remains.

“‘Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.’ –Psalms 30:5”

French Consulate

France’s Buckhead-based Atlanta Consulate General office made brief comments on social media as it reposted French media reports.

“A heartbreaking moment for France and the world as a priceless and beloved monument burns. Our thoughts are with the people of Paris and the firefighters working to put out the blaze.”

Louis de Corail, the consul general, offered personal thoughts on social media as well, saying, “A sense of void and emptiness. Having grown up on the Île Saint-Louis, next to the cathedral, I feel like a good part of my life has now disappeared. Let’s rebuild.”

Rev. Samuel Candler, dean of Episcopal Cathedral of St. Philip

“The Episcopal Cathedral of St. Philip shares the grief and sadness of so many across the world who witnessed the catastrophic fire at Notre-Dame de Paris. With our sisters and brothers in the Roman Catholic Church, and across the world, we rang our church bells at 12:50 on Wednesday, April 17, to remember the event.”

This story will be updated.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.