Perhaps the most powerful scenes from today’s devastating news in Paris were the people lined at the Seine singing. As they watched on as one of the most recognisable Catholic landmarks in the world – the Notre Dame Cathedral – was engulfed in fire and thick plumes of smoke, Parisians gathered and sang “Help us on our way”. They were indeed holding vigil for the 850-year-old building which, while it’s iconic spire has collapsed, its main gothic structure is reportedly still intact and preserved and will be rebuilt, according to French prime minister Emmanuel Macron, “starting tomorrow”. Take a look:
They are all facing Notre Dame, singing beautifully “help us on our way” pic.twitter.com/GEsthRr6he
— Hadas Gold (@Hadas_Gold) April 15, 2019
Such a powerful scene outside of Notre Dame. pic.twitter.com/tJ1sUtrqSY
— Henry Rodgers (@henryrodgersdc) April 15, 2019
In a time in our world of great uncertainty and unrest, the cathedral stood as a place of prayer and a symbol of hope. Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, the building is known for its many gargoyles and architecture and is considered a religious and cultural symbol of France and great literature, so much so, it attracts 13 million tourists every year. People were openly weeping in the streets as firefighters battled the flames. The world watched on – and reacted via social media. Here’s a few:
Devastated for our friends at #NotreDame and for the people of France.
You are in our thoughts and prayers tonight.
— Westminster Abbey (@wabbey) April 15, 2019
I fondly remember standing outside Notre Dame with Jen almost 30 years ago. So sad to see this beautiful cathedral in flames this morning. Our thoughts are with the people of France and emergency services who are fighting this fire. They will rebuild as Parisians always do.
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) April 15, 2019
My heart breaks for the people of Paris after seeing the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral. Praying for everyone’s safety.
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) April 15, 2019
My thoughts are with the people of France tonight and with the emergency services who are fighting the terrible blaze at Notre-Dame cathedral.
— Theresa May (@theresa_may) April 15, 2019
PM @ScottMorrisonMP & Oppn Leader @billshortenmp should today agree to establish an Australian fund to support the restoration of Notre Dame so that Australians can show their solidarity once again with the people of France.
— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) April 15, 2019
Of course there was the ignorant:
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2019
And of course we compared to his predecessor:
Notre Dame is one of the world’s great treasures, and we’re thinking of the people of France in your time of grief. It’s in our nature to mourn when we see history lost – but it’s also in our nature to rebuild for tomorrow, as strong as we can. pic.twitter.com/SpMEvv1BzB
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) April 15, 2019
It is unclear the cause of the fire. Firefighters and authorities will do an inventory shortly to establish how many of the art works inside the cathedral have been ruined by smoke or water.
More to come.