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‘I cried:’ Milwaukee pastor, scripture professor speaks out after Notre Dame Cathedral fire

MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee pastor and scripture professor who has spent more than 50 hours inside the Notre Dame Cathedral said the fire Monday, April 15 was devastating. Pastor Lorrie Wenzel explained what this fire took from her and those who see Notre Dame as more than a church.

Lorrie Wenzel

When word of that a massive fire had erupted inside the Notre Dame Cathedral -- Pastor Wenzel said it was almost too much to handle.

"I heard it and I had to pull over--  and I cried," said Pastor Wenzel.

It was a reaction shared by many who saw the cathedral as something more.

A firefighter uses a hose to douse flames billowing from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019. - Pope Francis stands with France and is praying for Roman Catholics and Parisians alike after a devastating fire raged through the iconic Notre-Dame cathedral in the heart of the city," the Vatican said on April 16. (Photo by THOMAS SAMSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)

"It was built for a group of people that are non-readers," said Wenzel.

Wenzel, who was a professor of scripture for decades, said when Notre Dame was built, it was designed for those who weren't able to read.

"The cathedral is meant to change your life. It's supposed to change your life. People were encouraged to run their hands on the outside of the building and touch the statues of Saint Paul and Saint Peter," said Wenzel.

PARIS, FRANCE - APRIL 16: Damage caused to Notre-Dame Cathedral following a major fire yesterday on April 16, 2019 in Paris, France. A fire broke out on Monday afternoon and quickly spread across the building, causing the famous spire to collapse. The cause is unknown but officials have said it was possibly linked to ongoing renovation work. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The 12th-century church is home to a 18th-century organ, relics, stained glass and other works of art of incalculable value, and is a leading tourist attraction.

"My concern, first of all, was for the rose windows," said Wenzel.

French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to rebuild the cathedral that he called “a part of us” and appealed for help to do so.

France's three wealthiest families came to the rescue of the national icon, spearheading a fundraising drive to rebuild Notre Dame that has topped $700 million.

PARIS, FRANCE - APRIL 16: Firefighters carry out inspections at Notre-Dame Cathedral following a major fire yesterday on April 16, 2019 in Paris, France. A fire broke out on Monday afternoon and quickly spread across the building, causing the famous spire to collapse. The cause is unknown but officials have said it was possibly linked to ongoing renovation work. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The billionaires behind luxury giants LVMH Group, Kering and L'Oreal on Tuesday pledged a combined €500 million ($565 million).

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