Firefighters inspect one of the rosette windows of Notre Dame Cathedral April 16, 2019, after a fire broke out in the iconic Paris structure. Officials said the cause was not clear, but that the April 15 blaze could be linked to renovation work. CNS photo/Yves Herman, Reuters

French leaders pledge Notre Dame Cathedral again will grace Paris skyline

By 
  • April 16, 2019

PARIS - Church leaders joined government officials in saying they expect that Notre Dame Cathedral's grandeur will be restored as firefighters extinguished the last flames of a fast-moving blaze that seriously damaged much of the iconic structure.

"We are living through an extreme moment. This is Holy Week and it isn't an accident," Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit said outside of the 850-year-old historic structure late April 15 as firefighters continued to attack the flames.

"Having marked the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are now experiencing our own passion, but we know that after it will come the resurrection. We believe in this and we will proclaim it by rebuilding this cathedral," Archbishop Aupetit said.

The archbishop also appealed for church bells throughout Paris to be rung in a sign of prayer and solidarity.

French President Emmanuel Macron praised the "extreme courage and great professionalism" of first responders who helped save the facade and towers of the Gothic landmark. He announced that a national reconstruction fund would be established.

Speaking in front of the charred cathedral late April 15, Macron said he understood the feelings of French Catholics in face of the disaster and pledged the whole population would "stand with them" in restoring it.

"Notre Dame de Paris is our history, our literature, our imagination, the place where we have experienced our great moments, the epicenter of our life," said Macron, who was accompanied by the archbishop, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.

"We built this cathedral over centuries, raising it up and improving it, and I now state solemnly that we will, all of us together, reconstruct it. This is undoubtedly part of the French destiny," Macron said.

Up to 500 firefighters battled for 15 hours to save the cathedral after flames erupted in the structure's attic about 6:30 p.m. local time. The blaze quickly consumed two-thirds of the 13th-century oak roof and brought down the cathedral's 300-foot spire. Authorities said much of the cathedral's wooden interior was destroyed and its masonry was seriously scorched.


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