Paris has been left “numb” after a devastating blaze tore through the city’s famous 850-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral.
The fire broke out at the gothic landmark yesterday evening shortly before 6pm and within a short period the cathedral’s priceless 19th century spire collapsed as firefighters fought to save the remainder of the building.
The blaze occurred as the cathedral was receiving restoration work, and was partially covered in scaffolding. As of the time of going to print, the cause of the fire was unknown.
Here's what we know so far about the fire at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France pic.twitter.com/w5zO5RFuXe— Press Association (@PA) April 15, 2019
Speaking to The Irish News, former Holy Cross priest Fr Aidan Troy, now based at St Joseph’s Church in Paris, said: “We are in a state of disbelief. The whole city is numb and it is absolutely heartbreaking to watch this cathedral – which is without doubt one of the most important Catholic buildings in Europe – become engulfed in flames.
“We have been preparing to celebrate Holy Week, and I was due to attend Notre Dame in a matter of days. My heart goes out to the archbishop, and the whole city of Paris, which loves this wonderful and historic building.”
Notre Dame celebrated its 850th anniversary in 2012 and Fr Troy, who moved to Paris from Ardoyne in 2008, said he hoped the Cathedral could ultimately be saved.
“It’s difficult to think that this 850-year-old building, which took many, many years to build, could suffer so much damage in on short evening. In the blink of an eye we have lost the iconic spire. Despite the sorrow, I know the people of Paris, and further afield, will come together in this difficult time and do what we can to rebuild.”
Paris fire brigade video shows extent of catastrophic blaze that engulfed Notre Dame cathedral, threatening one of the greatest architectural treasures of the Western world. https://t.co/Gzho6SdODr pic.twitter.com/nzQaqPO6GK— ABC News (@ABC) April 16, 2019
The Vatican issued a statement that said: “The Holy See has seen with shock and sadness the news of the terrible fire that has devastated the Cathedral of Notre Dame, symbol of Christianity in France and in the world.”
The statement said the Vatican is praying for firefighters “and those who are doing everything possible to confront this dramatic situation”.
It also expressed “our closeness to French Catholics and the population of Paris, and we assure our prayers for firefighters”.
A host of world leaders, celebrities and millions more worldwide took to Twitter to respond to the catastrophic fire in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
French President Emmanuel Macron postponed an important address to the nation that was to lay out his response to the yellow vest crisis because of the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral.
He was planning to announce a series of measures after three months of a national debate that encouraged ordinary people to propose changes to France’s economy and democracy.