SACRAMENTO -- As the Notre Dame Cathedral burned, sadness could be seen and felt on the streets of Paris and across the rest of the world.
Veronique Jennings' mother is from France. She still has family that lives there and lived there herself for a total of about five years but now lives in the Sacramento Valley.
Watching flames claim part of the country's soul was devastating.
"Definitely, gosh, a cultural center of France for sure. I would say for the French it's probably more of a cultural center than the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower is more the tourist center," Jennings said.
Jennings first went to the cathedral when she was a small child, so she doesn't remember her time there then. But a trip back in her 40s with her aunt Chantal as a personal tour guide made an imprint.
"It was rather dark on the inside, sort of mystical and I was very taken, of course, with the stained glass. There's beautiful stained glass that dates back to the 13th century, which is the 1200s," she said.
She was awed by what 12 million people a year could see as they came face to face with one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture.
Notre Dame de Paris, or Our Lady of Paris, serves Catholics in the "city of lights" just like the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament serves the faithful in California's capital city.
The rector or administrative leader of the cathedral in Sacramento, the Very Rev. Mike O'Reilly, visited Notre Dame more than 30 years ago before joining the priesthood.
"Any building like Notre Dame is a reflection, we hope, of something of the greatness of God and who he is and what we long for," O'Reilly said. "Any person needs to appreciate that it is, in the end, fleeting just as any human creation is and that, you know, God is eternal."