History buffs, travellers and big names around the world mourned the Notre-Dame Cathedral as it burned on Monday (April 15). After a 12-hour fight and the loss of the grand building’s spire and roof, the cathedral mostly remains standing after nearly 1,000 years.
The twin bell towers and the Notre Dame’s iconic 18th century organ remain intact, and efforts are underway to preserve everything else possible. Most of its artwork was saved, but many people – including celebrities from Idris Elba to Ellie Goulding, Maisie Williams and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – are mourning the incredible loss during renovations leading up to Easter, which is celebrated by western Catholics and Protestants this week.
It is difficult to understate Notre-Dame’s cultural importance to Paris – and to France. Notre-Dame de Paris sits on the spot where the city was founded in the Middle Ages. It is also said to have been the location of a Roman temple in ancient times. Construction began on the building in 1160 and was finally completed 100 years later. The entire city is built around Notre-Dame, with its 20 arrondissements spiralling out like a shell from the location of the cathedral out to the suburbs. It is the very heart of the city. Throughout its long history, Notre-Dame has survived much, including being desecrated during the French Revolution. It is a symbol of hope, having also weathered both world wars and the Nazi occupation. Twelve million people visit it daily.
Here’s a look at what many famous names were saying as they heard about and saw the blaze.
Nearly everyone expressed sadness and disbelief at the news.
I cannot believe what’s happening to Notre Dame.— Idris Elba (@idriselba) April 15, 2019
Interrupting my birthday to express how much pain I’m in watching the Notre Dame fire unfold. Such an incredible building. I’m so sad— Maisie Williams (@Maisie_Williams) April 15, 2019
Standing here next to you, heartsick for Notre Dame...— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) April 15, 2019
Feel profoundly sad about this... so much lost in a few seconds ... I am praying (which I don’t do often) for the fire to be contained soon .... utterly heartbreaking https://t.co/VnRPHdHOFs— Ellie Goulding (@elliegoulding) April 15, 2019
Others shared their own experiences at Notre-Dame in expressing sadness at the news.
my heart is breaking seeing the fire at notre dame. I’ll never forget walking in the first time in Paris and being in awe of the beauty of it. — camila (@Camila_Cabello) April 15, 2019
Very sad to see the Cathedral of Notre Dame in flames. Such a magnificent and iconic structure. I hope everyone is safe and my heart goes out to the French people.— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) April 15, 2019
Others pointed out that Notre-Dame has overcome much throughout its history.
Watching the Notre-Dame fire with such sadness. Sending love to the people of France and hoping they get a handle on it soon. It has survived, and will survive.— josh groban (@joshgroban) April 15, 2019
Absolutely heartbreaking to see the Notre-Dame Cathedral in flames. Canadians are thinking of our friends in France as you fight this devastating fire.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) April 15, 2019