Notre Dame Cathedral fire evokes memories of Hartford church blaze

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The Archdiocese of Hartford knows the feeling of losing a cathedral to fire.

The Cathedral of Saint Joseph burned to the ground New Year’s Eve in 1956. 

During the morning Mass, worshipers started to smell smoke, but firefighters could not locate the flames until it was too late.

No one was hurt, and the cause remains a mystery, but many speculate it was either arson or an electrical fire that burned the church into a pile of rubble.

Archbishop Leonard Blair lost important local artifacts and religious relics, along with rare wood carvings.

“For me as a bishop and as a Catholic, it is not just about art or a historic monument, as important as those are, but it is a great symbol of faith!” Archbishop Blair said.

Related Content: Madison brothers in Paris describe blaze at Notre Dame Cathedral

And the congregation kept the faith, as all that remained of the Cathedral of Saint Joseph was the stone facade. 

Archbishop Blair said his prayers go out and his faith stays strong for those on the ground in France.

“As serious and devastating as it was as that was to Hartford, when you think of Paris and the history of Notre Dame for all of those centuries, centuries upon centuries, It is really, really heartrending. I can only hope and pray that whatever the final outcome, it will be possible to rebuild it and many other things inside might still be saved,” he said.

The Archdiocese of Hartford rebuilt the church more than five years later, and they have not forgotten the fire.

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