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Michelle Obama, Melania Trump Share Photos of Notre Dame Visits: 'My Heart Aches With the People of France'

The current and former first ladies Melania Trump and Michelle Obama shared photos of their respective visits to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, in tributes to the French iconic monument that was engulfed in flames on Monday. 

“My heart breaks for the people of Paris after seeing the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral. Praying for everyone’s safety,” Trump wrote on Instagram. The words accompanied a photo of her lighting a candle inside the Gothic landmark in the heart of Paris during a two-day visit with President Donald Trump in 2017.

Obama shared an image of her family at the cathedral. Sasha Obama can be seen lighting a candle, while her mother, father and sister look on during a trip in 2009.

“I will never forget the first time I walked into the Notre Dame Cathedral,” wrote the former first lady. “I was a teenager on a school trip to Paris. It was my very first international trip, and until then, I hadn’t seen much outside of the South Side neighborhood I grew up in.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I will never forget the first time I walked into the Notre Dame Cathedral. I was a teenager on a school trip to Paris. It was my very first international trip, and until then, I hadn’t seen much outside of the South Side neighborhood I grew up in. But the majesty of Notre Dame—the history, the artistry, the spirituality—took my breath away. The feeling was almost indescribable—a place that lifts you to a higher understanding of who we are and who we can be. Every time I’ve visited in the years since, including as First Lady, I felt the same thing. So being here in Paris tonight, my heart aches with the people of France. Yet I know that the Notre Dame I experienced all those years ago, as so many others have over the centuries, will soon awe us again.

A post shared by Michelle Obama (@michelleobama) on

“But the majesty of Notre Dame—the history, the artistry, the spirituality—took my breath away. The feeling was almost indescribable—a place that lifts you to a higher understanding of who we are and who we can be. Every time I’ve visited in the years since, including as First Lady, I felt the same thing."

Obama, who is in the French capital as part of the book tour for her memoir Becoming, continued: "So being here in Paris tonight, my heart aches with the people of France. Yet I know that the Notre Dame I experienced all those years ago, as so many others have over the centuries, will soon awe us again.”

Their husbands also paid condolences. Alongside the same image of his family, former President Barack Obama wrote: “Notre Dame is one of the world’s great treasures, and we’re thinking of the people of France in your time of grief. 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.”

Donald Trump told his followers: “So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!” He later tweeted: “God bless the people of France!”

Speaking during an economic roundtable, he said the destruction caused by the fire “is beyond countries, that's beyond anything. That's a part of our growing up, it's a part of culture. It's a part of our lives.”

notre dame cathedral fire Smoke and flames rise from Notre Dame Cathedral on April 15, in Paris. A fire broke out on Monday afternoon and quickly spread across the building, collapsing the spire and most of the roof. Veronique de Viguerie/Getty Images

The fire at the 850-year-old monument at around 6:45 p.m. on Monday evening, shortly after it had closed to tourists for the day, according to officials. The blaze, which firefighters have since brought under control, caused the spire and most of the roof to collapse.

The cathedral has withstood the French revolution and two World Wars, and French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to see it restored. 

“We will rebuild Notre Dame because it is what the French expect of us, it is what our history deserves, it is, in the deepest sense, our destiny," he said.

A Paris prosecutor has launched an investigation into the fire, which ripped into the building as an $6.8 million dollar renovation project was being carried out on the church's spire.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the history of the famous Notre Dame Cathedral.

20190416_Notre_Dame_Newsweek The history of the Notre Dame Cathedral, in Paris, appears in a timeline. Statista

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