As the Cathedrale Notre-Dame erupted in flames on Holy Monday, 400 firefighters fought to protect her, risking their lives to save all they could. The hoses were not strong enough, the ladders too short. Fighting valiantly for hours, fire officials in Paris say that the structure may be saved, but the roof and spire, known to so many around the globe, have fallen. On a day marked by such dark tragedy, a look at the hope, history, and heroes of this grand church that will forever live in the hearts of so many.
1. As the fire erupted early evening on Holy Monday, Catholic Parisians and tourists gathered on the Left Bank singing hymns, chanting, and praying for the beloved church to be saved.
2. Construction of Notre Dame, built on the ruins of earlier churches, began in 1163, when Pope Alexander III laid the foundation stone. It took about 200 years to build and wasn't completed until 1345.
3. The spire that fell was made of oak, covered with lead, and weighed 750 tons.
4. Because of recent renovations, just last week, bronze statues from the 12th and 13th century were removed from the spire.
5. One of the most revered relics, the Crown of Thorns, kept in the cathedral, was saved through the efforts of the firefighters.
6. The cathedral has seen the coronations of Henry VI of England in 1431 and of Napoleon in 1804.
7. The famous South Rose Window, offered by King St. Louis, was created in 1260, is believed to have been lost to the flames. The cathedral’s website boasts that its three rose windows “constitute one of the great masterpieces of Christianity.”
8. The Cathedral counts among its treasures two other relics connected to Holy Week: a fragment of the Wood of the Cross, believed to be a part of the “true cross” on which Jesus was crucified; and one of the nails that the Romans used to crucify Jesus.
9. In 1804, Napoleon invited Pope Pius VII to come to Paris to crown him emperor inside the cathedral. At the very last minute, however, Napoleon seized the crown from the pope’s hands and crowned himself.
10. Fire officials now say Paris firefighters, using water cannons to fight the blaze, have now saved the structure and two main towers from the flames.
This Holy Week, please say a prayer for the city of Paris and all those around the world mourning the loss of this beloved church.