Many were devastated after the iconic and historical Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France caught fire in the evening of April 15. The cathedral, which took 182 years to build, housed priceless relics that are considered sacred to Catholics around the world.
“The Holy See (Pope Francis) has seen with shock and sadness the news of the terrible fire that has devastated the Cathedral of Notre Dame,” the Vatican said in an official statement that was released Tuesday morning. In the statement, they also expressed prayers of support for the French Catholics and the Parisian community who were deeply heartbroken by the tragic incident.
But what makes the Cathedral of Notre Dame iconic? My Pope explores some of the reasons why the medieval site is considered precious not just by Catholics, but also by history buffs around the world.
It has stood for more than eight centuries
In 2013, the Cathedral of Notre Dame celebrated a historic milestone after it turned 850 years old. Its construction, which took 182 years to complete, began in the 12th century during the reign of King Louis VII and ended in the 13th century.
It is home to priceless relics that date back to the time of Jesus Christ
A fragment of what is believed to be from the cross where Jesus Christ was crucified could be found in the Notre Dame Cathedral, along with one of the nails that were used to crucify him. The crown of thorns that was used by the executioners to mock Jesus can also be found at Notre Dame. It was purchased by King Louis IX of France in the 1200s from Emperor Baldwin II of the Byzantine empire.
It has witnessed some of the most historical events in the world
For the Parisian community, the 850-year-old cathedral is the heart of their city. The site–witness to a lot of events that are important to the city’s rich history–is considered as one of the most historical places in the world. It has seen England’s Henry VI crowned as king of France in 1431, Scotland’s King James V’s wedding to Madeleine of France in 1537, Napoleon Bonaparte’s consecration as emperor of France in 1804, and Joan of Arc’s beatification in 1909.
It is said to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture
French Gothic architecture is a style that was dominant in France from the 1st century until the mid-16th century. Such design is most evident in the cathedral’s enormous stained-glass windows and its facade–which is decorated with a mass of stone sculptures and adorned by statues depicting The Last Judgment. The cathedral’s north and south doors also take visitors back to the medieval times, with its decorations depicting the lives of local saints, the infancy of Christ, and the tale of Theophilus.
It is one of the largest and most beautiful cathedrals in the world
Considered as one of the largest cathedrals in the world, Notre Dame can hold more than 6,000 worshipers at a time. The site reportedly draws around 13 million visitors each year, with tourists coming from all over the world not just to practice their faith, but also admire the cathedral’s historic beauty.
Despite the grief of the whole Catholic community over the tragic incident that befell the Notre Dame Cathedral, officials are optimistic that they will be able to rebuild the centuries-old cathedral and restore it back to its glory. “We will rebuild,” French President Emmanuel Macron said late Monday. “We will rebuild Notre Dame because this is what the French expect, because this is what our history deserves, because it is our destiny.”