Fargo Bishop and MSUM History Professor React to Notre Dame Fire

FARGO, N.D. — All eyes were on the Notre Dame in Paris as it burned Monday, and now France is dealing with its aftermath. Many people across the Atlantic have ties to the cathedral, including people in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

“Years ago I was able to visit and I managed to find a little place, and I had some time to myself just for prayer and looking around and it’s just an amazing setting for prayer and worship,” Bishop John Folda of the Diocese of Fargo, said.

“It’s a real difficult thing to watch. To see the flames coming out of that beautiful building, it really hurts my heart, I’ve spent a lot of time in Europe, and I’ve enjoyed my time in Paris immensely. I always go to that church,” Annette Morrow, a history professor at MSUM, said.

Just as it has so much influence on many people personally, it also shaped society through wars and revolution and is so deeply embedded with the history of France.

“It’s just such a majestic building. Every time I go there I think about the many things that’ve happened there. Like Napolean Bonaparte was crowned king there. That’s a big deal,” Morrow said.

“It’s always tragic when a community loses such an important place, a place of worship. Notre Dame is so tied up with the identity of the faithful in France,” Folda said.

Keeping the structure up has never been an easy feat. When the cathedral was built in the 13th century, there was the possibility of it collapsing. The spire had to be fixed in the 19th century.

Notre Dame was being renovated when the fire started. Many art pieces, important relics, and even the statues on the roof were saved.

“Anytime you restore something you actually take away from the history. It’s sort of a give and take relationship that happens with restoration of historical objects,” Morrow said.

“We’re praying for our brothers and sisters in Paris, and praying with them, and I’m sure our Lord is very close to them. It’s kind of like losing a member of the family,” Folda said.

Bishop Folda says the Bishops Conference may do something jointly incorporating all of the dioceses in response to the fire.

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