A Setback in Time
“It's part of the landscape. It's part of the scenography. We wouldn't imagine Paris without Notre Dame. It's just clearly impossible for us. ” - Margot Haddad
It was a symbol of community, perseverance, and longevity as it attracted millions of people from around the globe to view its awe-inspiring nature. It survived through centuries of renovations and modernization, only to vanish overnight as the fire consumed it. The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, was a global historic treasure, the loss of which has been felt around the world.
During the evening of April 15th, reports began coming in of a fire in the top floors near the roof. All had been evacuated due to the fire alarms and an ongoing Mass, and fire checks began immediately after. 500 firefighters were deployed to contain the fire, but various conditions such as the immense height and requirement of preserving as many of the relics as possible lead to complications during these attempts. The fire was officially put out 12 hours after it began with no casualties and 3 firefighter injuries.
Its construction began in 1163 under King Louis VII and took almost 200 years until its completion in 1345. The scale and intricacy of the building were unprecedented, making it a relic of medieval gothic architecture. Its design was improved and the structure amended as time passed, but it faced challenges such as the destruction of relics during the French revolutions in the 1790s. As of the fire, it contained relics such as the Crown of Thorns and the Tunic of Saint Louis among others, some dating back to the days of Jesus Christ.
The damages as of now are extensive. A myriad of irreplaceable relics, such as wooden sculptures, paintings, and more was lost. Structural damages were immense, with 2/3 of the roof being destroyed. However, there is still some hope: reports claim that the overall structure is still intact, although there are some vulnerabilities. Firefighters had previously been trained for this scenario, so at least 100 out of the 500 art pieces in the Cathedral had been removed. And while the famed spire burned down, great exhibits of stained glass have remained intact among other art pieces.
Although it is a dire day for the people of France and many throughout the world, immediate action has been taken by the French president Emmanuel Macron and other French cooperation to rebuild Notre Dame. During a speech on April 16th, Macron stated, “The fire at Notre Dame reminds us that our history never stops and we will always have challenges to overcome. We will rebuild Notre Dame, more beautiful than before.” He claims that Notre Dame will be rebuilt in the next 5 years as $675 million have been pledged by companies including Total, L’Oreal, and the Bettencourt-Schueller Foundation. The owners of Louis Vuitton have all also pledged 100 million euros each. However, experts concerned with the delicate process required to renovate such an ancient structure disagree with this estimate and say it may take up to three times as long. Either way, the symbol of Notre Dame is by no means destroyed, and its destruction has only served as a reaffirmation to upholding the values it stood for.