France’s Interior Minister says the 850 yr. old Notre-Dame Cathedral is burning. The world is watching in horror today, 4/15/2019, as one of Paris’ most iconic structures, where as many as 50,000 visited during Holy Week, is engulfed in flames.
As orange flames ripped through the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, sending black smoke billowing into the Parisian night, world leaders and former visitors from around the globe reacted with a mix of sadness and disbelief and shared fond memories of an iconic Catholic structure that stood for centuries and once hosted baptisms, marriages, and funerals.
Church spokesman Andre Finot told AP the entire wooden interior of the 12th- century landmark was burning and would likely be destroyed.
“Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame,” said Finot.
Completed in 1345, Notre-Dame Cathedral is one of Paris’s most iconic structures. But it’s French Gothic gargoyles and arches are showing the wear and tear of seven centuries. The majestic medieval monument, which is home to some of Catholicism’s most important relics — including the crown of thorns said to have been worn by Jesus — has been deteriorating for a long time.
Friends of Notre Dame of Paris Foundation was launched to find private donors both in France and across the Atlantic. Michel Picaud, who is helping to raise the money, told CBS that “Notre-Dame of Paris isn’t a Paris monument or French monument or a European monument. It’s really a worldwide monument.”
French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted,”Notre-Dame de Paris in flames,” wrote Macron. “Emotion of a whole nation. Thought for all Catholics and for all French. Like all our compatriots, I am sad tonight to see this part of us burn.”
Gerard Araud, the French ambassador to the U.S., fought back tears on CNN and said it was the country’s “national identity” that was burning. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo called it a”terrible fire.”
The Vatican issued a statement, calling the fire “terrible,” and saying it “devastated” the cathedral.
“The Holy See has seen with shock and sadness the news of the terrible fire that has devastated the Cathedral of Notre Dame, symbol of Christianity in France and in the world,” the statement said.
French historian Camille Pascal told BFM broadcast channel the fire marked “the destruction of invaluable heritage.”
“It’s been 800 years that the Cathedral watches over Paris,” said Pascal. “Happy and unfortunate events for centuries have been marked by the bells of Notre Dame.”
One of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in the world, the historic cathedral is a major tourist attraction for Americans and a pilgrimage site for American Catholics. Construction, which began in 1160, was largely completed in 1260. It has been renovated through the years, including the current work that fire officials speculated may have been linked to the blaze, which erupted just a week before Easter.
President Donald Trump called the blaze “horrible” and offered Parisian firefighters some unsolicited advice.
“So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris,” tweeted Trump. “Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!”
The last reports from NBC News at 4:36 US/EST are: The “THORN” from Jesus’s Crown of Thorns has been saved.
Its priceless treasures also include a Catholic relic, the crown of thorns, which is only occasionally displayed, including on Fridays during Lent. The crown was believed to be placed on Jesus’ head leading up to his crucifixion.
The Cathedral housed priceless pieces of art, silver, and relics.
Investigators are on the scene to determine the cause of the fire as renovations were underway.
Ref. NBC News, CNN News, patch.com,
Photo courtesy of Bing via aleteia.com