By Alex Mintz
On April 15, 2019, the people during the mass were watching the priest begin leading the gospel for Mass when the fire alarm went off. There was confusion when this happened. Everyone evacuated in time before noticing that the cathedral was engulfed by fire. This is a tragic moment for hundreds of millions of people who loved this old gothic architecture. What happened that caused the fire?
The Notre Dame is a Catholic cathedral that was built in 1163 A.D., during the reign of King Louis VII. It took 182 years for the Notre Dame was finished in 1345 A.D. According to NPR, Henry VI of England was then crowned King of France.
The church has also survived many other events like revolutions. This cathedral now is a historical place filled with relics and art pieces. Some of the most common relics are the crown of thorns when Jesus Christ was tortured, a nail from the cross that put Jesus on the cross, and a part of the wooden cross itself.
Some of the art that Notre Dame has are three rose windows. The north one, according to Wander Wisdom, is the most stunning of the three rose windows.
They also have statues around the cathedral. Each statue represents someone in the Catholic faith such as the Apostles and saints. Another famous statue that is very well known at the Notre Dame are the gargoyles and chimeras. They are not there just for decoration. They are used to evacuate the rainwater from the roof according to the official website of the Notre Dame. The gargoyles and chimeras are also used to represent that “all creatures are the work of God and therefore have the right to His Love and Salvation,” says the Notre Dame de Paris website.
There are many other things that the Notre Dame is known for, such as the biggest organ with 8,000 pipes, a copper Gallic rooster that sat on the spire (the copper Gallic rooster is said to contain three relics. One of Saint Denis, one of Saint Genevieve, and one of the thorns from Jesus’s crown of thorns, according to CNN Style) the tunic worn by Saint Louis, and much more.
Two security guards, according to CNN, told the police that they saw the fire when it was about 3 meters high at 6:43 P.M. The first alarm rang at 6:15 P.M, and the security guards didn’t see anything at the time when they checked. The second fire alarm rang at 6:43 P.M and the security guards went to a different location at the top of the cathedral before spotting the fire. There were also no construction workers on the site when the fire broke out, says CNN.
The fire is believed, according to investigators, to have started in the center of the cathedral’s roof and toward the base of the spiral. The cathedral was under renovations at the time of the fire. They were working on the spire which had collapsed in the fire.
What about the relics that were mentioned before? Well, these relics were able to be saved. Priest Jean-Marc Fournier ran back into the Notre Dame fire to save the crown of thorns. All the other sacred relics were saved by firefighters that went inside to extinguish the fire. The organ’s status is unknown, according to NPR, and the Olivier Latry, one of the chief organists says that, “The organ has an electrical system which was installed the last restoration, and as you know, electricity and water don’t work together.” The copper Gallic rooster was found in the debris of the cathedral.
The fire at Notre Dame was a tragic moment in history. It was a miracle that most of the relics, artwork, and other important objects were able to survive the blazing fires. President Emmanuel Macron has promised to rebuild the cathedral within five years. Hopefully, the cathedral will be able to be rebuilt and brought back to its former glory.
Watch the iconic spire falling down: