Notre Dame Cathedral Fire: Michelle Obama Mourns Burning Landmark While in Paris

Former First Lady Michelle Obama shared her sympathies with the people of France on Monday after the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral caught fire.

Obama had been in Paris on her book tour for her recently released memoir Becoming when flames broke out at the 13 century cathedral, which she had visited with her family while her husband, Former President Barack Obama, was still in office.

“The majesty of Notre Dame—the history, artistry, and spirituality—took our breath away, lifting us to a higher understanding of who we are and who we can be,” she wrote. “Being here in Paris tonight, my heart aches with the people of France. Yet I know that Notre Dame will soon awe us again.”

As people around the world watched as plumes of white smoke turned gray and then black before flames rose from the roof and the spire fell, Obama’s husband also mourned the burning landmark.

“Notre Dame is one of the world’s great treasures, and we’re thinking of the people of France in your time of grief,” he wrote alongside n old photo of himself, his wife, and their two daughters, Sasha and Malia, lighting candles in the cathedral. “It’s in our nature to mourn when we see history lost – but it’s also in our nature to rebuild for tomorrow, as strong as we can.”

The Notre Dame Cathedral, situated on an island in the Seine River, is the most-visited monument in France, seeing millions of people every year. Famed for its architecture, the cathedral, was completed in 1345, is home to a collection of precious items, including one of the Holy Nails from the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and number of rare paintings and statues.

Although initially feared that much of the history held inside of the medieval cathedral would be lost, the nearly 500 firefighters who tackled the blaze managed to save and "preserve" the main buildings, and French journalist Nicolas Delesalle of Paris Match reported that “all the artworks have been saved. The treasure of the cathedral is intact.”

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According to early reports, the fire started accidentally as a result of continuing construction on the historical building.

French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to reconstruct the historic building, which is often seen as the heart of Paris.