Published: Thu, April 18, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

Notre Dame Cathedral fire: What it means to Paris, Catholics and more

Notre Dame Cathedral fire: What it means to Paris, Catholics and more

The roof collapsed a few hours later, including the spire from the center of the building.

Firefighters douse flames rising from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019.

Notre Dame is the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Paris and considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture.

People look at smoke and flames rising.

"Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo used a Latin phrase used to represent Paris since around 1358, which roughly translates as: "[She] is tossed by the waves but does not sink". They finally gained the upper hand as midnight approached.

French writer and historian Camille Pascal said the fire had caused "the destruction of invaluable heritage" and "we can be only horrified by what we see".

Gasps and cries of "Oh my god" erupted around an hour after the fire first broke out when t he top portion of the church's spire came crashing down.

The cause of the blaze was not immediately confirmed.

"It's extremely important to the city, and I can't think of anything more precious that could burn in Paris", Malone said. They also destroyed many other statues with the exception of one of the Virgin Mary, and tore down the original spire of the church, erected in the 13th century.

"Absolutely heartbreaking to see the Notre-Dame Cathedral in flames, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote on his Twitter feed. It's the entire culture, entire history of France incarnated in this monument", Bernard Lecompte, a writer and specialist in religious history told BFM TV.

"The worse has been avoided, although the battle is not yet totally won", the president said, adding that he would launch a national funding campaign on Tuesday and call on the world's "greatest talents" to help rebuild the monument. Now, I am afraid they might all disappear in the ongoing fire.

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In 1831, Hugo brought the cathedral alive with "Notre-Dame de Paris", giving it a personality on par with the novel's heroes, the hunchback Quasimodo and the gypsy beauty Esmeralda.

For French Catholics it has particular resonance, as the resting place of the crown of thorns believed to have been placed on Jesus' head before his crucifixion. There was no immediate indication of any casualties in the blaze.

United States president Donald Trump caused consternation after suggesting the fire could be extinguished with "flying water tankers". "Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!" he said.

Hundreds of people gathered on the bridges of Paris to witness the scene, many filming the images with their smartphones. I literally just visited Notre Dame two days ago.

Its massive tenor bell announced the liberation of the city from Nazi control on August 24, 1944, ending the dark years under German rule in World War II.

Situated at the eastern end of the Ile de la Cite and built on the ruins of two earlier churches, the cathedral was first commissioned by King Louis VII, who imagined it as a symbol of Paris's cultural and political supremacy.

Boats cruising on the Seine river in Paris near Notre-Dame cathedral.

"It's going to be hard to not see the physical building, but the history and everything that happened, the masses", Mercelia said.

Among the most celebrated artworks inside are its three stained-glass rose windows, placed high up on the west, north and south faces of the cathedral.

The blaze started about 2.30am, Melbourne time.

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