The near 700-year-old cathedral went up in flames as firefighters rushed to rescue historic artifacts
The iconic Notre Dame cathedral in Paris caught fire Monday, April 15, forcing hundreds of firefighters to rush into the building in an attempt to save the many famous artifacts and works of art held within. By Friday night, the fire had been stabilized, ensuring that the cathedral would not collapse. While the church’s iconic rectangular towers were spared, the central spire and much of the building’s wooden interior were destroyed by the blaze.
While one firefighter was injured, no deaths have been reported as a result of the fire. Miraculously, it also seems that the vast majority of the artifacts and works of art within the cathedral were saved without being damaged, including the crown of thorns that Jesus Christ purportedly wore.
Now that the flame has been extinguished, a fundraising process is underway for repairs. Within twenty-four hours of the blaze, French philanthropists and and businesses had put forth hundreds of millions of Euros to rebuild the cathedral. French businessman Francois-Henri Pinault and his billionaire father gave 100 million Euros the morning after the disaster, which was soon trumped by French tycoon Bernard Arnault’s pledge of 200 million Euros.
However, some critics have taken issue with these actions, suggesting that these rich businessmen care more about the cathedral than they do about poor French people. Members of the Yellow Vest movement, who have been demonstrating for economic justice against French President Emmanuel Macron’s maltreatment of the poor, took to the streets Saturday. They wanted to remind the French government that France has other pressing problems, such as addressing high unemployment rates and high levels of homelessness. Housing campaigners demonstrated outside the cathedral with signs reading “Notre Dame burning = €1 billion in 24 hours. Homeless = €0” and “Notre-Dame is roofless, us too!”
By most estimations, repairs could take years or even decades to complete. While the full extent of the damage remains unknown, experts are working to create a timeline for the historic cathedral’s reconstruction.