Watching history burn before our eyes as 800-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral was engulfed in flames

By Staff Writer Ben Pfeffer.

The infamous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France caught fire at 12:30 PM ET on Monday, April 15 and the fire raged overnight in France until the following day.
The Notre Dame Cathedral has been standing for 850 years and is the center of Catholicism in France.

It is also considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in the world.

Edward Berenson, a history professor who specializes in French History at New York University, said Notre Dame is “one of the most sacred places, maybe the most sacred place, not only in France but in all of Catholicism.”

There aren’t that many places that are that old and that connected to the history of the church.

Notre Dame has evolved into a place where every French person can feel belongs to them, whether they’re religious or not, and I think that’s the really key point: it has national meaning.

“It’s one of the things that’s associated with France even more so than the Eiffel Tower just because it’s so much older than the Eiffel Tower,” Berenson said.

The cathedral’s 295-foot spire collapsed as hundreds of thousands watched live on Monday.

This lead many to believe that the cathedral would not survive at all, but it did.
The sight of the Notre Dame Cathedral ablaze was a devastating image for many people around the world.

However, it could have been worse. Many efforts were made in attempts to save religious artifacts, along with firefighters battling flames for almost 5 days straight.
The Cathedral housed relics that are believed to stretch back to the earliest days of Christianity, such as the Crown of Thorns associated with Christ.

The workers formed a human chain to save the crown and other relics from the fire in a heroic fashion.

Among other things to survive were the infamous rose stained-glass windows from the 13th century along with the 18th century organ and its 8,000 pipes.

The copper statues representing the 12 apostles and four evangelists that stood around the spire were spared, somehow.

“You can still see that the statue of the Virgin Mary is still standing,” Paris resident Catherine Oudot, 63, told USA TODAY.

“It’s a relief to know that it survived. Notre Dame isn’t just a Christian landmark or a cultural landmark. It’s an absolute symbol for us, for France.”

The cathedral barely escaped complete tragedy. It is estimated that it would have only taken 15-30 more minutes for the entire cathedral to completely collapse.

However, because of the city’s, nation’s, and world’s focus on this fire, the largest damage caused to the cathedral from this fire was that the spire collapsed, and parts of the stone ceiling went with it.

Notre Dame is almost always been renovated from 850 years ago. In fact, it was being renovated when the fire started.

As of Friday, April 19, it is likely that the cause of the fire was due to a computer malfunction during this frequent renovation.

French citizens should rejoice compared to what could have been.

French President Emmanuel Macron vowed that Notre-Dame would be restored and called for the work to be completed within five years.

To help Macron, billionaire François-Henri Pinault announced plans to pledge €100 million towards renovation and called for a joint effort to fund repairs.

Soon after Pinault’s pledge, LVMH owner and billionaire Bernard Arnault and his family pledged another €200 million for the restoration of “this extraordinary cathedral, which was a symbol of France, of its heritage and of French unity.”

To add on to this, video game company Ubisoft also pledged €500,000 to Notre Dame’s reconstruction.

Finally, an international architectural competition will also be launched to redesign the roof and spire, showcasing the reach of public pledges for support.

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