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1992 fire at Seattle cathedral shares parallels to Notre Dame fire

St. James Cathedral had to rebuild after a catastrophic fire in 1992. Now, the Seattle church is sharing its message of hope with Paris.

SEATTLE — Father Michael Ryan wants people in Paris to look at St. James Cathedral’s history and find hope.

“We had feelings here at St. James about what’s going to happen, after the catastrophic fire here and we brought it back. In fact, more beautiful than it was before. I suspect that’s what going to happen with Notre Dame,” said Ryan.

On March 7, 1992, a man broke into St. James Cathedral. Father Ryan said he lit a bowl of matches and the church caught on fire.

“It was kind of a torch that took fire,” said Ryan.

Two rooms were destroyed, and there was damage to the main cathedral, but what Father Ryan remembers most, is how the church survived.

“It was one of those great moments of my life,” said Ryan.

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Monday’s fire at Notre Dame Cathedral reminded Father Ryan of his experience 26 years ago.

“Paris [Monday], is what happened here, but much larger,” said Ryan.

Officials in Paris say the flames destroyed the church’s roof and spire, but the iconic medieval bell towers and many of the historical artifacts inside survived.

RELATED: Cross, Crown of Thorns and most other artifacts safe after devastating Notre Dame fire

France’s president said the country will work to rebuild Notre Dame in the next 5 years.

“I like to think of cathedrals as unfinished symphonies. They’re never really completed. You’re always adding to them,” said Ryan.

Notre Dame now shares this same story of hope, one that is also written into St. James' history.

“It will carry on its message, ministry and mission long into the future. I’m sure,” said Ryan.

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