UNLV history professor expounds on importance of Notre Dame Cathedral

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Notre Dame Cathedral is more than a place of worship; it’s an architectural beauty, a French Gothic masterpiece, as well as a symbol of French history.

8 News NOW Reporter Sally Jaramillo spoke to UNLV History Professor Gregory Brown about the history of the cathedral and why the French will rebuild.

Construction for the Notre Dame Cathedral started back in the 1100s.
From massive towers to gargoyles surrounding spires — the cathedral drew millions of visitors each year.

“The attachment that people have now; today the attachment I have as a historian, the attachment of the people who visited is an attachment apart to an idea,” said Gregory Brown, UNLV history professor.

Professor Brown describes Notre Dame Cathedral as a living symbol of the past.

“It’s a site of sanctuary, it’s a site of sanctuary for people who come to the city whether as tourists or as migrants for people seeking refuge,” Brown said. “It’s been a sanctuary for Catholics, but it’s been a sanctuary as well for other religious groups.”

Brown also expounded on how the cathedral became a symbol of religious unity when construction started in 1163.  It has withstood wars and numerous restorations, and enjoyed new attention in 1831 when Victor Hugo wrote a novel known in English as “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

“We all have a very strong personal sense association with certain places,” Brown said.  “The extent which is in such a visible location is partly the story here and why it is that people have such a strong association with it and why perhaps these strong emotions.” 

The Diocese of Las Vegas’ director of Communications, Rachel Wilkinson sent the following statement:

“It is sad to see such a beautiful and historically significant Cathedral damaged in such devastating fashion.  The Cathedral has come to represent the durable faith of the French Catholic Community and is recognized by people around the world for its storied past and architectural splendor.  Our prayers are with Cardinal Archbishop André Armand Vingt-Trois of Paris and the people of Paris.”  

Professor Brown says it’s only through historical preservation that we keep history alive.

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