Paris' Notre-Dame Cathedral On Fire


By Musa Mdunge

Notre-Dame Cathedral went up in flames on Monday in a roaring blaze that devastated the Parisian landmark, one of France’s most visited places. Flames burst through the roof of the centuries-old cathedral and quickly engulfed the spire, which collapsed. A huge plume of smoke wafted across the city and ash fell over a large area.

“Everything is collapsing,” a police officer near the scene said as the entire roof of the cathedral continued to burn. Firefighters cleared the area around the cathedral, which marks the very centre of Paris. Buildings around were evacuated. President Emmanuel Macron cancelled an address to the nation that he had been due to give later on Monday evening. A presidential official said Macron was to go to the scene of the blaze. “A terrible fire is under way at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris,” Mayor Anne Hidalgo said on Twitter.

The Notre-Dame Cathedral


Bried History and Significant Events

The cathedral was built on a small island called the Île de la Cité, in the middle of the Seine. Construction began in 1163, during the reign of King Louis VII, and was completed in 1345. It is considered a jewel of medieval Gothic architecture.

It was damaged and neglected in the 1790s, during the French Revolution. Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel, “Notre-Dame of Paris,” published in English as “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” informed readers about the building’s decrepit condition. The book helped spur significant overhauls from 1844 to 1864, when the architects Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Lassus and Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc redid the spire and flying buttresses.

The Notre-Dame has seen signifance political events such as:

  • Henry VI of England was made king of France inside Notre-Dame in 1431.

  • Napoleon Bonaparte, who also sought to save the storied cathedral, was crowned emperor there in 1804.

  • In 1909, Joan of Arc, who had helped France battle the English and was burned at the stake centuries earlier, was beatified in the cathedral by Pope Pius X.

While the rest of the world joined the French People in expressing their shock in the fire that engulfed the Notre-Dame, it is not the first time the Cathedral has been burnt. In fact the present edifice replaced an earlier church destroyed by fire. Fire struck yet again in the 13th century, prompting new work on the cathedral between 1230 and 1240, according to the book The Engineering of Medieval Cathedrals.

-JP

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