The Meeting Place

Notre Dame burns but billionaire pledges funds for rebuild


A catastrophic fire has engulfed and partially destroyed the majestic Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. But within hours of the blaze being contained, a French billionaire promised 100 million euros to help with its restoration.

The fire began in the early evening and burst through the roof of the centuries-old cathedral and engulfed the spire, which collapsed, quickly followed by the entire roof.

The cathedral's famous spire collapsed, but a French official and the Paris fire chief said they believed the iconic towers had been saved and that the cathedral's structure was "saved from total destruction". However, two-thirds of Notre Dame's roofing "has been ravaged".

The fire is, so far, being treated as an accident. 

Fire chief Jean-Claude Gallet said a major accomplishment of hundreds of firefighters was stopping the flames from spreading to the north tower belfry.

One firefighter had been seriously injured in the blaze.

French billionaire François-Henri Pinault said he and his family would donate money to help reconstruct the cathedral.

"My father [François Pinault] and I have decided to release as of now from the funds of Artemis a sum of 100 million euros to participate in the effort that will be necessary for the complete reconstruction of Notre Dame," Mr Pinault said.



Notre Dame was bulit in the 12th and 13th centuries, taking 200 years to build. It is the most famous Gothic cathedral of the Middle Ages and is an integral part of france's identity. 

The cathedral is renowned for its architecture, especially for its many gargoyles and its iconic flying buttresses. It is also home to countless celebrated artworks, including its three stained-glass rose windows and a Catholic relic, the crown of thorns, which is usually displayed on Fridays during Lent.

Luckily, the cathedral's significant collection of artwork and holy objects had been recovered, said Paris Mayor Anne Hildago, and residents were evacuated.  

French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to rebuild the cathedral, but said he would need international help to do so.

"Like all our compatriots, I am sad this evening to see this part of all of us burn," said Mr Macron.

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Some of the heftiest donations promised publicly so far have come from French Jews. One of them being Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, with her family who own L’Oreal have pledged $226  to help rebuild Notre Dame. 


Image result for francoise bettencourt meyers

Notre Dame’s history includes some little known facts. For instance, the late Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, a convert from Judaism, liked to point out that the façade of the cathedral displays statues of the 28 kings of Israel, which was a way for designers to express gratitude to Paris’s Jewish community for its financial support of the original construction.

In that sense, Lustiger would say, Notre Dame was also a unique symbol of Jewish/Catholic friendship.

Hundreds of millions of dollars has already been raised, donations pouring in from around the world. And not just from Christians, but also from non-Christians. In particular, the rector of the Great Mosque of Paris Dalil Boubakeur has called for Muslims to contribute to the rebuilding efforts.

“The Great Mosque of Paris calls all Muslims in France,” the message reads on the Great Mosque of Paris website, “to contribute to the national subscription that was launched by the President of the Republic for the reconstruction of Notre-Dame de Paris.”

He then explains his reasoning: “This cathedral, temple of God, jewel of the national heritage, which has received so many prayers in our history, represents for Muslims the symbol of Mary, ‘Meriem,’ mother of Jesus, mentioned 34 times and celebrated in the Koran by a whole Surah (S.19).”

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