Flames and smoke are seen billowing from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral on April 15, 2019 in Paris, France.

The Notre Dame Cathedral inspires so much awe in visitors that seemingly everyone who steps inside it feels a powerful, and personal, sense of connection to it. I visited it myself for the first time two years ago and, like everyone else I know, was thrilled by its foreboding Gothic architecture. In spite of myself, I snapped a couple dozen pictures. Even knowing that every inch of the building had already been documented by far better photographers than me, I felt overwhelmed by the need to take a piece of Notre Dame home with me.

And so to watch the cathedral burn today — helplessly, on a Periscope stream — was a tragedy. And while nothing will match the horror of seeing the world lose one of its most beautiful structures, the calamity…

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