The morning after a fire ravaged Notre Dame cathedral at the beginning of Holy Week, Parisians have embraced the period of faith and resurrection and vowed to rebuild.
Notre Dame, the soul of the French nation, caught alight Monday evening in a fire believed to be connected to recent restoration work being undertaken.
As fire engulfed the twelfth-century structure, it destroyed the wooden and lead roof and the early nineteenth-century spire with a cathedral spokesman saying, while the fire was still at its most intense, “Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame.”
Near the Pont Saint-Michel — in sight of the burning structure — a small group of Parisians sang “I salute you, Mary,” the crowd grew into the hundreds, struck by the significance of the fire overtaking the Church of France at the beginning of the holiest week in the Christian calendar. Even after it was confirmed that the fire had been put under control by 0330am local time, Le Parisien reported that crowds stood vigil into the small hours of the morning.
However, early indicators suggest that not all has been lost, as media and French officials report that much of the vaulted stone roof, the flying buttresses, the two towers, and the west rose window have survived.
While the building must undergo structural assessment — with certainly the weight of the water-soaked, scorched beams putting strain on the gothic stonework below and many other remaining features rendered fragile — before years of restoration can begin, the word “miracle” is being uttered, according to reporters on the ground, even amongst the secular.
A young nun from Poland, Sister Marie-Aimée of the monastic fraternity of Jerusalem, told Le Monde that last night she believed the whole building would collapse, but “This morning, I say to myself that she has stood firm.”
“There at the time of the apocalypse,” she said, gesturing towards Notre Dame, which means ‘Our Lady,’ added, “… there will be the time of the rebirth. As at Notre Dame, what must be cleared will be cleared but the essential, the walls, will always stand up and be rebuilt.”
Maxime, a 22-year-old history student shared a similar sentiment telling Le Parisien on Tuesday, “Let us rejoice at having preserved it so far, and we will enrich it, as has been done over the centuries. Only the physical material is reached, but the intangible part of the symbol will come out stronger.”
France has already begun distributing funds for rescue work, with Paris’s mayor Anne Hidalgo releasing €50 million, while the Île-de-France region will release €10 million in emergency aid.
International offers of support have also begun to be made, with the Russian Ministry of Culture chief, Vladislav Kononov, proposing to organise a collection in Russia to restore the building.
Private individuals and organisations within France have offered to dig deep, with the president of the Professional Football League (LFP) Nathalie Boy de la Tour saying the body “will help financially rebuild this cathedral.”
French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of the international luxury group Kering, has pledged €100 million. While Bernard Arnault, head of the LVMH group which owns Le Parisien, announced a “donation of €200 million euros” for Notre Dame.
French President Emmanuel Macron visited the scene last night while firefighters were still battling the blaze, and the question of what would remain hung heavy in the air. However, he promised France, “We will rebuild this cathedral. It is undoubtedly part of French destiny and a project we will be tasked with for the coming years and I am committed to it.
“Starting tomorrow, national subscription will be launched and well beyond our borders we will appeal to the greatest talents from around the world and many will come to contribute and rebuild us.
“We will rebuild Notre Dame, because that is what the French expect and because that is what our history deserves, because it is our deep destiny.”
You can read Breitbart London’s coverage in full of the tragic fire here.