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Notre Dame fire: latest developments

The view a Twin Cities man had of the fire that engulfed Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. (Star Tribune/TNS/Released)

A fire that started on the roof of Paris’s iconic Notre Dame Cathedral has left the 800-year house of worship a charred shell. But French President Emmanuel Macron has promised to rebuild. Here’s the latest of what we know about the Holy Week fire and its aftermath.

Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said there was no evidence of arson in the Notre Dame fire and that investigators were working on the assumption that the blaze was an accident, possibly related to a multimillion dollar rehabilitation project under way at the cathedral. Heitz said the investigation would be “long and complex.”

French Minister of Culture Franck Riester said many priceless works of art in the cathedral were saved and that Notre Dame’s organ had survived. He said firefighters rescued the church’s two most hallowed relics: a tunic worn by St. Louis, a 13th-century French king, and a crown of thorns that is revered as the one Jesus wore when he was crucified. André Finot, a cathedral spokesman, said the cathedral’s precious stained-glass rose windows, which date to the 12th and 13th centuries, are also likely intact. Sky News reported that the Rev. Jean-Marc Fournier, chaplain of the Paris Fire Brigade, was the person who saved the crown.

With Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo suggesting an “international donor’s conference” to rebuild the cathedral, two wealthy French families have pledged 300 million euros ($339 million) for the reconstruction. French oil and gas giant Total pledged another 100 million euros ($113 million).

Peter Fuessenich, who oversees all construction work for the Gothic cathedral in Cologne, Germany, says, “it will certainly take years, perhaps even decades, until the last damage caused by this terrible fire will be completely repaired.”

In a tweet, Pope Francis said: “Today we unite in prayer with the people of France, as we wait for the sorrow inflicted by the serious damage to be transformed into hope with reconstruction. Holy Mary, Our Lady, pray for us.“

The Paris fire department said the fire was out as of 3:45 a.m. Philadelphia time.

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia said in a statement that he watched the fire “with deep sadness and shock. For over 800 years, Notre Dame has been one of the most iconic churches in Christendom — testament to man’s desire to glorify God on earth and a beacon of hope for millions of pilgrims each year. The ongoing destruction being wrought by flames is doubly sorrowful as it comes during the holiest week of the Christian calendar.”


© 2019 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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