Updated at 5:20 p.m. ET

A day after flames leaped through Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris sparking fears the beloved building could be consumed, Parisians sang and prayed in processions through the streets and held vigils Tuesday evening close to the church constructed more than eight centuries ago.

The cathedral stood blackened with much of its roof gone, its spire collapsed and charred rubble inside, but it remained standing, its main structure and two towers spared.

A group of Massachusetts high school students happened to visit the famed Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday — just prior to the massive fire that engulfed the building.

Sadie Nacar, 17, was among 77 people from East Bridgewater High School who had just landed in Paris on Monday for a class trip.

She says Notre Dame, one of the world’s most famous churches, was the main attraction of the day.

The center of Paris is Notre Dame.

This is true both literally and figuratively. The Gothic cathedral is there on Île de la Cité, the island in the Seine in between Paris' Left and Right banks, convenient and inescapable for the estimated 13 million people who visit it every year. Just outside, a Point Zero marker measures the distance to everything else in France. And Notre Dame is there in more than 850 years of French history: in paintings, daguerreotypes, songs, novels, war photos, awed selfies.

Kelly Fellner is the superintendent of Springfield Armory National Historic Site and Coltsville National Historical Park.
Carrie Healy / NEPR

The Springfield Armory National Historic Site has a new leader. 

Updated on Tuesday at 5:25 a.m. ET

Notre Dame Cathedral, one of the world's most famous churches, erupted in flames Monday in Paris, losing its spire but remaining otherwise largely intact after firefighters worked through the night to contain the fire.