The recent fire in Paris has wrought horrible devastation on the Notre Dame Cathedral, breaking the hearts of people around the world.
According to USA Today, construction on the cathedral began in the 12th century. The building has become one of Paris’ most beloved landmarks, a pilgrimage site for both the religious and non-religious.
For Catholics, it’s also a holy place. Meaning “Our Lady,” Notre Dame housed the crown of thorns, a revered religious relic believed to have been worn by Jesus himself.
Many were concerned for its safety as its whereabouts were not immediately clear, but as The Telegraph later reported, a priest named Jean-Marc Fournier managed to whisk it and other priceless items out of the building before it collapsed — but the building itself is now a shell of its former glory.
“It’s the very soul of Paris, but it’s not just for French people,” Barbara Drake Boehm, senior curator of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s medieval Cloisters branch, explained. “For all humanity, it’s one of the great monuments to the best of civilization.”
Multiple news sites — including CBS News — followed the tragedy as Notre Dame burst into flames on April 15. The blaze caused the monument’s striking spire to tumble down and did substantial damage to the interior of the structure.
The cathedral was in the midst of a renovation project when the conflagration flared up. Builders had used some 500 tons of wood and 250 tons of lead to shore up its tower, and the Paris fire brigade has so far alluded to construction being a possible cause of the destructive blaze.
Relevant Magazine highlighted a tweet shared by Spanish reporter Ignacio Gil that summed up the sentiments held by many as the beautiful building lit up the night sky. As Notre Dame burned, bystanders gathered, gazing up at the flames and the smoke rising heavenward.
Gil posted footage of the crowd, showing some of its members staring at the smoldering structure and some peering down at their phones. A few clutched rosaries and appeared to be praying.
But they all shared one thing in common: They were singing “Ave Maria” in mournful, multi-part harmony.
Ave Maria pic.twitter.com/lb6Y5XV05a
— Ignacio Gil (@Inaki_Gil) April 15, 2019
Though no one can cast the fire in a positive light, the situation the morning after did not appear as bad as some had feared it would. Notre Dame spokesperson Andre Finot initially said, “Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame.” Finot later added that the 12th and 13th century stained glass windows appear to have survived the blaze intact.
Firefighters kept the rectangular sections from collapsing, and first responders spirited away many of the art pieces housed within the place of worship. Also, despite the ferocity of the fire, thankfully no lives were lost.
Authorities also currently don’t believe the incident had anything to do with an intentional, malevolent act. Rather, it seems like a terrible accident.
Additionally, multiple French billionaires have pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild Notre Dame. Bernard Arnault, who helms LVHM, is offering approximately $225 million, while François-Henri Pinault of Gucci and Saint Laurent will give the equivalent of $113 million.
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