Like many around the world who watched as smoke and flames destroyed the roof of Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday, April 15, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints took to social media this week to share in the mourning of the historic loss.
Sister Sharon Eubank, the first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, shared a personal account in a Facebook post on Tuesday, April 16.
"I spent 2006 living in Paris," Sister Eubank wrote. "My apartment was just a few blocks from Notre Dame Cathedral, and I can’t count how many times I walked along the river and ended up staring at that stunning church."
With the flames extinguished, crews continue to assess the damage done to the cathedral. Firefighters are reported to have rescued and preserved many of the precious relics from the structure by removing them during the fire and storing them nearby in Paris' City Hall. And while the majority of the structure remains standing, many continue to mourn the loss of so much history.
Sister Eubank explained that following the fire, she read news reports detailing the efforts of the laborers and craftsmen who helped build the roof of the gothic structure by pulling trees from the ancient forests of France.
"Many of those trees, in order to be long enough, were 300+ years old," she said. "I can’t imagine how those laborers cut down those trees, dragged them to the little island in the middle of the river where the cathedral stands, hoisted them hundreds of feet into the air, and somehow attached them to the walls and roof."
She continued: "Tragedies like this one make us mourn what is lost. Much of it is not replaceable. There is no way to calculate the value of what a visit to that glorious edifice has meant to millions of people. Our hearts are with beloved Paris."
The official Facebook page for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in France also posted a statement following the tragic fire. The post stated that members of the Church in France share in mourning the loss of a magnificent building which reflects the glory of God and inspires good, not only in the Catholic and Christian circles but also, throughout the world.
But despite the loss, many are choosing to look at the fire with hope for the future.
French President Emmanuel Macron stated the day following the fire that he hopes for the cathedral to be rebuilt within five years. And Father Brien McCarthy of the nearby L'eglise de la Madeleine shared with the Church News his belief that something positive would rise from the ashes.
While the loss of the great cathedral continues to be felt by people around the world, Sister Eubank reminded followers of the love that God has for his children and that old things can be made new through the help of the Lord.
"Let us turn our hearts over to Him and not be afraid to build with His beauty upon our ashes," her post concluded, mirroring the "turn to Jesus Christ, who loves you still" theme from her April 2019 general conference message.