Notre Dame Cathedral, an iconic symbol of the beauty and history of Paris, was severely damaged in a fire that destroyed the wood-and-lead roof and lacy spire, that was built with 750 tonnes of oak lined with lead. As the fire spread in the centuries-old structure, hundreds of stunned people gathered in the streets of Paris to watch in disbelief.
Despite the grief, poignant videos have captured tourists and local residents singing hymns as they watched the fire raging in the cathedral. Kneeling on the ground, people were seen chanting prayers and singing hymns and many were left in tears after seeing parts of the cathedral’s roof collapse. One such video captured a group softly singing the hymn ‘Ave Maria’, and it has since gone viral with millions of views.
The video has over 16 million views already, and the video shared on Twitter by El Mundo reporter Ignacio Gil has gone viral.
Ave Maria pic.twitter.com/lb6Y5XV05a
— Ignacio Gil (@Inaki_Gil) April 15, 2019
Famous French cellist Gautier Capuçon also paid homage to Notre Dame with a moving tribute.
Thousands of onlookers had gathered along the banks of the Seine and packed into the plaza of the nearby Hôtel de Ville, many gasping and covering their mouths in horror even as some sang hymns and said prayers. Many other videos of people praying in different parts of Paris are also doing the rounds on social media.
— Christopher Kozal Brennan (@CKozalBrennan) April 15, 2019
— Katie Hinman (@khinman) April 15, 2019
Many people are singing songs.
Notre Dame Cathedral
The place had a very sacred atmosphere. pic.twitter.com/owmswAnZ25
— KAZUKI (@KazukiNakane) April 15, 2019
It’s a very moving moment here in #NotreDame. People are still singing the Hail Mary choir in disbelief. No other words can be uttered at this tragic event. #NotreDameFire #NotreDameDeParis pic.twitter.com/726QXBeWHO
— Alexander Durie (@alexander_durie) April 15, 2019
Most of the sacramental artefacts in Notre-Dame’s treasury – where they were traditionally kept as reserves to be sold off or melted down in times of need – date from the 19th and 20th centuries.
The cathedral is significant as it is the seat of the Archbishop of Paris. It was also where England’s Henry VI became the King of France in in 1431; where Napoleon was crowned Emperor in 1804 and Joan of Arc was beatified in 1909. The great masterpiece of French Gothic architecture has survived, albeit not unscarred, the French Revolution, the Paris Commune of 1871, the two World Wars.