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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images

The historic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris became engulfed in flames Monday evening as the world's 1.2 billion Catholics begin celebrating Easter week.

Construction began in 1163 and took almost two centuries to complete. Nearly 900 years of history crumbled before the world's eyes in mere seconds. Twelve million tourists visit the medieval church every year.

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