As we wait to hear what caused the Notre Dame fire and come to terms with the devastating loss, many have demonstrated strength, unity and kindness. Here are five of the most beautiful moments.
The world watched on in shock on Monday evening (15 April) as a fire tore through Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
People were left heartbroken as they witnessed the spire of the 850-year-old building – a famous Gothic silhouette in the cityscape – collapse under the pressure of fierce flames. President Emmanuel Macron called the fire a “terrible tragedy” as firefighters continued to contain the fire well into the early morning hours.
Although the cause of the fire has not yet been confirmed, it is widely thought that it is has something to do with the extensive renovation works taking place. According to a fire brigade spokesperson, the whole roof has been “devastated” but firefighters managed to save the main building.
Notre Dame is part of the heart of Paris, and has stood its ground through the beautiful city’s storied history, becoming a beloved icon in pieces of film and literature such as Victor Hugo’s classic The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
It has set the scene for many romantic moments, religious visits, dream city breaks and inspirational sojourns, which is why so many people are mourning the sad loss of such an architectural wonder. But one positive thing among all this sadness is that their love for Notre Dame has brought people together…
Crowds sing Ave Maria on the Notre Dame grounds
Notre Dame is first and foremost a place of religious worship and peace. Crowds honoured this by gathering with candles to sing one of the oldest Catholic hymns, Ave Maria.
People are praising firefighters for rescuing relics
French firefighters are being hailed as heroes for trying to save Notre Dame and its precious contents. Paris Fire Brigade Chaplain, Father Fournier, has specifically been thanked for his bravery after rescuing the Crown of Thorns from the burning building. The BBC reported that Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said: “We had a chain of solidarity, especially in saving the works of art… [They] were able to be saved and put in a safe place. This is a tragedy for the whole world… Notre-Dame is the entire history of Paris.”
Generous donations will restore Notre Dame
Since President Macron emotionally vowed to restore the iconic landmark, individuals and groups have already raised millions of pounds for the project. Billionaire François-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of the Kering group that owns the Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent fashion brands, pledged €100m (£86m; $113m) towards the project. Another €200m was pledged by Bernard Arnault’s family and their company LVMH - a business empire which includes Louis Vuitton and Sephora - on Tuesday morning. People across the world have also been giving what they can. In fact, there are more than 50 unofficial fundraising pages on the Go Fund Me website on Monday alone.
As reported by the BBC, offers of help have also been pouring in from around the globe, with Russian President Vladimir Putin saying he is happy to send experts to help restore the cathedral. The British government is also looking into what it can do to help with its reconstruction, according to Ed Llewellyn, the UK ambassador to France. Spanish Culture Minister Jose Guirao said his country is also seeking ways to help - although, he added, “right now, above all, it’s about moral support, solidarity and from there, whatever they need.”
Amazing artwork captures the many emotions people are feeling
Artists are capturing many people’s emotions in artwork of a building that has inspired so many creative pieces over hundreds of years. Some are celebrating Notre Dame’s beauty and dazzling painted glass windows, while others show the sadness and loss of an icon. Many are also including Quasimodo in their work, which particularly tug on the heartstrings.
Celebrating love among the ashes
Couples who became engaged in or in front of Notre Dame are paying tribute to their favourite romantic spot by sharing sweet engagement photos along with their stories. It’s a lovely way to stay positive during such sad destruction.