What Notre Dame Cathedral Means to Me, a Lifelong Catholic

CNS News | 4/17/2019 | Staff
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I almost didn’t go to Paris.

We were only a few weeks into our semester abroad in Italy, and I was still struggling with culture shock. Even though Europe was just as beautiful as I had always hoped, I was still frightened to venture too far from the comfort of our quiet apartment complex atop one of Rome’s many hills.

Weekend - Plans - Rest - Classmates - Roommates

We had a free weekend coming up and I still hadn’t made any plans to travel like the rest of my classmates. My two roommates invited me to come with them to France—a brief trip to Paris and Lisieux. I don’t know why, but I said yes.

I will be forever grateful that I did.

Morning - Flight - France - Order - Food

When our early morning flight touched down in France, I was completely disoriented. Between the three of us, we only knew enough French to order food and ask for basic directions. I tried to order coffee at a Starbucks in broken French while we waited for a shuttlebus. Somehow I ended up with hot chocolate instead.

We boarded our bus and made our way to Paris. Our first stop: Notre Dame Cathedral.

Catholic - Sight - Towers - Notre - Dame

As a lifelong Catholic, catching sight of the looming towers of Notre Dame was almost unreal. This cathedral, for me, had always been a place from a long time ago in a land far away. Yet here it was, in all its glory.

It was early morning, so we had to squint in the sunlight and crane our necks to observe the towers and striking steeple. It was also cold, early winter, off-season for tourists, so the square was relatively empty. It felt like we had the place to ourselves. We took a few photos and resolved to go inside later.

Seine - River - Shakespeare - Company - Bookshop

After walking along the Seine River, exploring the Shakespeare and Company bookshop, and sampling some authentic French pastries, we...
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