Local woman remembers spending Holy Week at Notre Dame Cathedral

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - People across the world were glued to their televisions Monday afternoon, watching as the historic Notre Dame Cathedral went up in flames.

One local woman was overcome with emotion watching the flames as she reminisced about an experience of a lifetime she had at the cathedral 50 years ago.

Lyn Leone was a sophomore in college studying abroad in Paris when she received an invitation one could only dream of: to spend Holy Week at the parsonage of Notre Dame Cathedral.

“There's no doubt in my mind from the day I got to do this to now, 50 years later, that something like that is extremely privileged and extremely unique,” Leone said.

Unable to go home for Easter, she spent the week helping the parish prepare for services and getting an exclusive glimpse of one of the most sacred buildings in the world.

“It just made you feel a connection with our historical progress of being a Catholic,” Leone said.

Monday afternoon, Leone watched along with the rest of the world as the Notre Dame Cathedral went up in flames. She says watching it she was “brokenhearted.”

“I will grieve now for the rest of my life for that cathedral, for everything it gave me, and it will always be in my heart,” Leone said.

A Notre Dame professortold us the importance of the cathedral to the French.

“The words everyone keeps repeating, whether they are a believer in Catholic ritual or not, is that, 'Our hearts are burning. Our hearts are bleeding. Our hearts are crying,'” assistant professor Katie Jarvis said. “There's really a sense of kind of a national loss."

The fire is now under control, so many are turning to what has been left behind.

“I personally am going to be looking for miracles,” Leone said. “I'm going to be looking at what did survive.”

A building 800 years old through its architecture is showing its resilience through yet another trying time.

“It also just represents the brilliance of humanity and what mankind was able to accomplish,” Leone said. “We'll move forward.”

Leone still has a framed picture of Notre Dame Cathedral given to her by the priest when she left after Holy Week.

She says she doesn't know if she'll be able to go back to see what remains of the cathedral