The Vatican has expressed “shock and sorrow” over the news that large portions of Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral have been destroyed in a fire that has yet to be completely contained. The Holy See Press Office released the following statement April 15 (English translation by Christopher R. Altieri):
The Holy See received with shock and sorrow the news of the terrible blaze that has devastated the Cathedral of Notre Dame, symbol of Christendom in France and in the world. We express our closeness to French Catholics and the citizenry of Paris. We pray for the firefighters and all those doing what can be done to face this dramatic situation.
As of now, there is no official word as to the cause of the devastating fire, though firefighters at the scene have told French media outlets that it may be connected to the extensive renovations that were underway at the cathedral.
As firefighters continue to work to contain the flames, people have gathered in large numbers to watch, pray, and even sing:
Ave Maria pic.twitter.com/lb6Y5XV05a
— Ignacio Gil (@Inaki_Gil) April 15, 2019
There have also been reports that the priceless works of art and relics housed in the cathedral — as well as the Blessed Sacrament — have been saved from the flames:
Une bonne nouvelle : toutes les œuvres d’art ont été sauvées. Le trésor de la cathédrale est intact, la couronne d’épines, les saints sacrements. #NOTRE_DAME
— Nicolas Delesalle (@KoliaDelesalle) April 15, 2019
Update: The Paris fire chief has told the press that the main structure of the cathedral has been preserved, including the famous bell towers and the building’s facade. Photos from the interior of the damaged church are beginning to appear in media reports.
If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!