For immediate release

April 19, 2019

What Notre Dame Means to the World

Construction of Notre Dame Cathedral began in 1163 with the placing of the foundation stone by Pope Alexander III. It was completed more than 180 years later, in 1345.

Notre Dame Cathedral ablaze 15 April 2019
Notre Dame Cathedral ablaze 15 April 2019

Considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, it has long been a symbol of spiritual values and faith. It also conveys the beauty with which Paris and France have graced the world through art and culture for centuries. In short, the cathedral has been a site of celebration, a symbol of peace and unity, a source of wonder and religious uplift for uncounted millions.

On the evening of April 15, as religious services were underway, the first of a series of alarms activated. Within minutes, fire was seen attacking the oak beams over the nave. It raced toward the spire, which quickly became engulfed in flames and collapsed soon after.

Hundreds of courageous firefighters battled the conflagration, including those who rushed into the blazing structure. Combined, their efforts prevented flames from spreading to the bell towers and loss of the entire cathedral.

One positive that has surfaced is the agreed-upon goal of all concerned to restore this iconic structure to even greater grandeur.

Brave souls, including Father Jean-Marc Fournier, were able to save many of the cathedral’s most sacred relics, including the Crown of Thorns. Fournier, Chaplain of the Paris Fire Brigade, is among those celebrated as a hero for charging into the cathedral even as flames devoured the roof.

In the aftermath, dozens of investigators began to examine every potential clue to determine the cause of the disaster.

One positive that has surfaced is the agreed-upon goal of all concerned to restore this iconic structure to even greater grandeur. French President Emmanuel Macron called for this to be accomplished within five years.

And two of France’s most affluent each promised €200 million to get this done, with a cascade of other pledges, large and small, following.

“While disaster has befallen Paris and the French people, their indomitable strength will shine through,” said Edward Parkin, International Director of STAND. “We look forward to seeing one of the world’s most enduring symbols of religious faith rise again, in even greater majesty.”

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