The Bishop of Sandhurst says Bendigo's Catholic community is devastated following the fire at Paris' iconic Notre-Dame Cathedral.
"The people of the Catholic Diocese of Sandhurst join the people of France in prayer at the loss of one of the world's great buildings," Bishop of Sandhurst Leslie Tomlinson said.
"We hope and pray that the injured firefighters recover fully and that as much as possible is preserved from the destruction."
Parisian firefighters said the main structure of the 12th century cathedral was saved, but the medieval spire and roof was destroyed in the flames. The exact cause of the blaze remains under investigation.
Read more: Notre Dame fire being treated as an accident
"Notre-Dame de Paris is one of the most magnificent and beautiful cathedrals in the world," Bishop Tomlinson said.
"Over the centuries, the beauty of the light streaming through Notre-Dame's iconic stained glass windows has lifted many people's souls to eternity and given them a glimpse of the joy of heaven."
"With architecture being the most public form of art, Catholics and non-Catholics nearly had something profoundly sacred and precious forever taken from them.
"Thankfully the towers and structure were not destroyed."
Historian at La Trobe University Dr Darius von Guttner said the cathedral had "endured a thousand years of history".
"It was originally built in 1160 and took about 100 years to complete," he said. "It was one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture.
"It was desecrated by French protestants in 1514 and was then converted to a secular place of worship in 1793 during the French Revolution. Revolutionaries closed down the church and made it the Temple of Reason.
Read more: Huge fire devastates Notre-Dame Cathedral
"But it came back to the Catholic Church in 1804 for the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte."
The Bendigo Historical Society said the news of the blaze was "devastating".
"We're very sad to hear about it and we just hope we haven't lost it forever," society president Jim Evans said. "We haven't had another cathedral like Notre-Dame."
Dr von Guttner said he was confident the cathedral would be able to recover from the fire because it was "bigger than Paris".
"It doesn't matter what happens next, Notre-Dame will always be an enduring symbol," he said. "Structures like this carry an emotional attachment for people, not only in Paris, but around the world.
"Notre-Dame is a symbol of Paris, it's a symbol of France, but it's also part of our greater human heritage.
"It's multi-dimensional and it goes beyond religions and I'm confident it will rise like a phoenix from the ashes."
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