Roses have been laid near Notre-Dame-de Paris Cathedral a day after a fire devastated the cathedral in central Paris on April 16, 2019.

Losing Notre Dame Cathedral feels personal to people all over the world

Updated 2029 GMT (0429 HKT) April 16, 2019

(CNN)The world watched on Monday as a fire engulfed the historic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, causing the collapse of the cathedral's iconic spire and the destruction of its roof structure, which dated back to the 13th century.

Travelers from all over the world shared cherished memories of their visits to one of the most beloved religious structures in the world with CNN. Here are their stories.
Hilts said this was her mother's last trip.
Jill Hilts, 71, Southern California, treasures this photo of her mother, Phyllis, siting on a bench outside the cathedral in 2000. They visited Paris a few months before Phyllis was diagnosed with ALS.
"We did not know this would be her last trip," Hilts said. Her mom died in 2003.
Hilts said her mom's back was bothering her, so she waited on the bench while she went inside to light a candle.
"My memories of this beautiful sanctuary, especially the windows and statues, are embedded forever and intertwined with my love for her," Hilts said.
Catherine Furey visited as a college student.
Catherine Furey, 24, Pennsylvania, is a devout Catholic who's been to church almost every Sunday since she was a baby.
She said going to Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral as a college student in 2014 made her beliefs even stronger.
"The Mass was in French, and all of the tourists attending spoke different languages. We all followed along and replied in our own languages. It was extraordinary," Furey said.
Seeing the Crown of Thorns, which some believe was placed on the head of Jesus during the crucifixion, gave her the overwhelming feeling that "Wow, this is real."
"As soon as they took the cover off the crown, I wept and was filled with an immense feeling of love and gratitude for the sacrifice on the cross," she said. "I have never doubted my faith since that day."
Furey is now a military spouse and going to optometry school. She heard about the fire on her way to class. She said she kept checking for updates on Monday, even though she had a neuroanatomy final the next day.
"I cried when I saw the crown was safe," she said. "What a miracle they managed to save so much."
Scott Ferrell, Kansas City, Missouri, still remembers seeing Notre Dame for the first time as a child in the 1960s.
"Even at 9 years old, I so well understood the beauty of being in this very special place in Paris," he said.
Ferrell was a military dependent and said they studied French every day at the US Army school he attended. They also took a lot of field trips, including a boat trip down the Seine River.
"As we traveled along the river, I saw the Notre Dame Cathedral come into view to my right. I was caught by the beauty of the cathedral and just amazed at not only how large it was but how incredible the architecture was," he said. "I wish I had photos to share but all I have [are] memories tucked away in my memory."