The iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was engulfed in flames days before Easter, and is considered by many a great tragedy. The 856-year old cathedral was in the midst of renovation, with several statues, relics, and artifacts being removed while the renovation was on-going.
— Patrick Galey (@patrickgaley) April 15, 2019
The fire broke out near the end of the day, with tourists visiting the cathedral and an upcoming mass scheduled when white smoke first appeared from the roof. Fire rapidly spread throughout the cathedral’s roof, causing its landmark spire to collapse.
Hundreds of people gathered and witnessed the fire engulfing the Parisian landmark, with mourners singing “Ave Maria” as the fire continued to swallow the architectural beauty.
Filled With Rich History
The Notre Dame Cathedral has become an icon of the city of Paris over the years. The historic cathedral was the setting of Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Several historical events also happened within the walls of the cathedral; Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned Emperor in the establishment in 1804 and Joan of Arc was beatified in the cathedral in 1909 by Pope Pius X. Notre Dame has also withstood both world wars, with the liberation of Paris being celebrated within the cathedral while singing the Magnificat.
The French President Reacts
French president Emmanuel Macron rushed to the scene when news broke about the cathedral’s current situation. In an interview, Macron vows to rebuild the Notre Dame, saying “We will rebuild Notre Dame because this is what the French expect, because this is what our history deserves, because it is our destiny.”
As of writing, no deaths have been reported from the scene of the tragedy. But at least one fire fighter was reportedly badly injured while trying to defuse the flames.
The World in Mourning
Leaders from all over the world shared their grief over this latest tragedy that struck the country. The Vatican expressed its grief through the statement “We express our closeness to the French Catholic and to the people of Paris. We pray for the fire fighters and for all those who are doing everything possible to face this dramatic situation.”
A Helping Hand
French Billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault, CEO of Kering, said that he and his family will donate 100 million euros to help rebuild the iconic cathedral. In a statement, Pinault pledged “My father (François Pinault) and I have decided to release as of now from the funds of Artemis a sum of 100 million euros to participate in the effort that will be necessary for the complete reconstruction of Notre Dame.”
Merci aux @PompiersParis, aux policiers et aux agents municipaux qui ont réalisé ce soir une formidable chaîne humaine pour sauver les œuvres de #NotreDame. La couronne d’épines, la tunique de Saint Louis et plusieurs autres œuvres majeures sont à présent en lieu sûr. pic.twitter.com/cbrGWCbL2N
— Anne Hidalgo (@Anne_Hidalgo) April 15, 2019
With a rich history, the Notre Dame Cathedral stored important relics, artworks and artifacts for safe keeping. As mentioned, several statues and relics were already removed from the cathedral, but those that remained inside were the priority of fire fighters during the defusing of the fire. The Crown of Thorns (worn by Jesus before the crucifixion) and the tunic of St. Louis were both saved by the fire fighters before they turned into ashes.
After the fire was contained, photos from the inside of the cathedral were released for updates. While the cathedral’s roof got severely damaged, its altar and main vault remained intact.
Despite the severe damage, plans of reconstructing the cathedral are on the way. President of France Emmanuel Macron said in a statement “Let’s be proud, because we built this cathedral more than 800 years ago, we’ve built it and, throughout the centuries, let it grow and improved it. So I solemnly say tonight: we will rebuild it together.”
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