Horrifying: Paris's Notre Dame Cathedral Is Burning

Horrifying: Paris's Notre Dame Cathedral Is Burning
(AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

On Monday, footage captured a massive fire atop Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris’s most famous building.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, the BBC reported.

The fire comes at the beginning of Holy Week, the week celebrating the days between Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and His Crucifixion on Good Friday and His Resurrection on Easter Sunday. The timing of this fire is quite suspicious.

Notre Dame dates back to 1160 and defined the city of Paris for centuries.

This post will be updated with any new information.

Update 2:10 p.m.: President Trump has lamented the fire.

“So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!” the president tweeted.

The main spire of the cathedral has come down.

Here’s footage of the spire as it fell.

As for the cause of the fire, speculators blame renovation work. If true, some construction company may be about to go out of business for this historic tragedy.

Last year, my wife and I spent three days in Paris, and I felt compelled to walk around Notre Dame one more night, despite the bitter cold. I’m very glad I did.

Update 2:50 p.m.: The fire has been restricted to the center of the cathedral.

Flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. Massive plumes of yellow brown smoke is filling the air above Notre Dame Cathedral and ash is falling on tourists and others around the island that marks the center of Paris. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Vice President Mike Pence has addressed the tragedy.

“Notre Dame is an iconic symbol of faith to people all over the world – and it is heartbreaking to see a house of God in flames. Our thoughts and prayers are with the firefighters on the scene and all the people of Paris,” Pence tweeted.

A few notes: Medieval Paris was centered around the cathedral on the Ile de la Cite. Notre Dame is indeed the heart of Paris. Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned there.

There have been attacks on churches in the Paris area, but there is no reporting suggesting the burning of Notre Dame was an attack.

Update 3:00 p.m.: Here is a live video from Reuters:

Update 3:10 p.m.: President Trump called Notre Dame “one of the great treasures of the world.” He said the church, “greater than almost any museum in the world, … looks like it’s burning to the ground.”

“That is beyond countries… that is beyond anything. That’s part of our growing up, it’s a part of our culture,” he added. It is indeed a part of the Western heritage.

“Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the fire, cathedral spokesman Andre Finot told the French media.

Update 3:30 p.m.: “Catholics everywhere are devastated by the destruction of Notre Dame,” Catholic Association Senior Fellow Ashley McGuire said in a statement. “For centuries, the cathedral has been an emblem of faith and beauty, beckoning visitors from all around the globe and filling their hearts with wonder and awe at the Divine. Just as the Catholic Church is universal, the loss of Notre Dame is felt universally.”

On that note, some of the relics in the cathedral — most famous among them one relic claimed to be the crown of thorns on Jesus’ brow on Good Friday — may have been burned in the blaze. Here’s my picture of the altar where the crown of thorns is displayed.

Update 3:35 p.m.: A French journalist says the works of art were saved.

“Good news: all the works of art were saved. The treasure of the Cathedral is intact, the Crown of thorns, the Holy sacraments,” Nicolas Delesalle tweeted.

Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.