Purdue professor on cathedral fire: 'sad day' for the world

Notre Dame Cathedral (Source: Juan Branco Twitter, @anatolium)

PARIS (WTHR) — Construction on Notre Dame Cathedral started in 1163 without any modern machinery.

We talked with two professors in Indiana who have unique perspective on the cathedral.

Fred Suppe is a Ball State professor of medieval history who has visited and studied the cathedral. He called it a stunning display of groundbreaking architecture. It took more than a century to build and was one of the first Gothic cathedrals meant to draw the eyes upward to its pointed arch.

"This was a new kind of architecture and in the middle of medieval Paris, where most buildings were one, maybe two stories tall, it was just an incredible effect it would have on people visually when they saw the church and they would go inside. On a sunny day like we're having today, the sun just pours in through the stained glass windows, and I'm sure that's one of the losses that they're probably worried about. It's one of a kind. It kind of set the pattern for the rest of Gothic cathedrals during the middle ages," Suppe said.

Suppe says Notre Dame survived bullets and bombs during World War II and damage during the French Revolution, and called it heartbreaking that fire during a renovation has now nearly destroyed it.

We also spoke with a Purdue professor who's originally from France.

Fabrice Lumineau is an associate professor of strategic management at Purdue. He grew up in Paris, earned his PhD there and just visited 10 months ago.

He's also returning to Paris next month with a dozen Purdue students for two weeks while he teaches there.

Lumineau says watching images of the Notre Dame Cathedral burning was heartbreaking.

"It's a terrible event. It's heartbreaking. And it's a sad day not only for the people of Paris but for the world. It's a symbol of architecture. It's a symbol of civilization and I have some personal memories. I've lived in Paris. I visited the place several times so it's definitely a sad day," Lumineau said.

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