NEWBURGH, IN (WFIE) - Father Joseph Ziliak is now retired but spent 25 years at Saint John the Baptist in Newburgh. He has visited Notre Dame cathedral nearly half-a-dozen times, and the most recent of them was in 2016.
He says each of those visits revealed a new feature.
Various artifacts, prominent pieces of art and relics collected over the centuries could be found under its Gothic arches and elegant design dating back 850 years.
“Carved in a wall were scenes of the life of Christ,” Father Ziliak recalled.
Eyes around the world watched as Notre Dame cathedral, ‘Our Lady of Paris’ went up in flames Monday.
“I saw the facade was still there. But behind it, it was right after the tower had fallen. And those flames just coming up out of the back of church-- and I said oh my, that’s right above the alter,” Fr. Ziliak said.
He shared with 14 News several photos from his most recent trip from three years ago.
The sacred place attracts tens of thousands of visitors daily, but it wasn’t just a tourist destination. It was a place of worship which featured iconic rose windows.
The cathedral’s treasury contains several artifacts sacred in Christianity including what many revere as the Crown of Thorns, worn by Jesus Christ on his way to the cross.
“None of us get through this life without these great moments of trial, difficulty, and pain,” Fr. Ziliak told 14 News.
The priest values the photos he has collected over the years during his visits and looks forward to seeing how they persevere.
“And knowing that it was a gift from God, and it will still be with us, yeah,” Fr. Ziliak stated.
Notre Dame was completed in the 13th century.
The cathedral was undergoing renovation work.