For the global Catholic community, the last 48 hours have been a feeling of great loss and devastation as fire tore through the roof and destroyed one of the World’s famous iconic religious monuments. It has been some sort of uneasy relief as authorities announced that the roof of the Notre Dame is destroyed, but the structure is secure.
In this piece, GBC’s Rebecca Ekpe takes a look at what has been saved and the World’s reaction to the blaze that swept through one of Europe’s most visited tourist attractions, Notre Dame.
In a face book post, President Akufo-Addo said he and the people of Ghana are shocked by the news of the destruction of the great Parisian Cathedral, Notre Dame, one of the most iconic buildings of world civilisation. He extended the country’s heartfelt condolences to French President Emmanuel Macron, and to the French people on their great loss. He said thoughts of the Ghanaian people are with them, and is hopeful and prayerful that efforts to save what is left of this historic Cathedral will be successful.
Emergency teams managed to rescue valuable artwork and religious items, including what is said to be the crown of thorns worn by Jesus before his crucifixion, which were stored inside the cathedral built in the 12th and 13th centuries. A tunic, which King Louis is said to have worn when he brought the crown of thorns to Paris, was also saved.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo confirmed that the art works have been put in a safe place. She described the incident as a, “tragedy for the whole world, adding that Notre-Dame is the entire history of Paris.” As the fire ravaged the building, thousands of people gathered in the streets around the cathedral, observing the flames in silence. Some could be seen openly weeping, while others sang hymns or said prayers. Churches around Paris rang their bells in response to the blaze, which happened as Catholics celebrate Holy Week. The Vatican expressed “shock and sadness” while UK Prime Minister Theresa May described the fire as “terrible”.
UNESCO said it stands “at France’s side to save and restore this priceless heritage” visited by almost 13 million visitors each year. Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel called the Notre-Dame a “symbol of French and European culture”. US President Donald Trump said it was horrible to watch. For the French, no other site represents France quite like Notre-Dame. Its main rival as a national symbol, the Eiffel Tower, is little more than a century old. Notre-Dame has stood tall above Paris since the 1200s.