The catastrophic fire that engulfed the 856-year-old Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on the evening of April 15 brought many to tears. As thousands watched the devastation, onlookers sung “Ave Maria” in sombre tones.
The emotion was felt deeply by Parisians, who have just endured a week of violent protests. Many had gathered on the banks of the Seine, and watched in horror as the flames and heat toppled the delicate iconic spire. Many wept freely at the sight.
Although the spire and the roof were burned, the two bell towers and most of the shell structure were saved. Several statues were removed one week prior as part of the restoration work going on—luckily they were safe. However, nothing is left of the wooden frame, a network of timber from 1,300 oak trees constructed in the 13th century, that served as fuel to the fire.
Although the flames were fully extinguished by the morning of April 16, the full extent of the damage and the cost of rebuilding is as yet unknown. The cause of the fire is also unknown. The emotional response to the Gothic masterpiece destruction was widespread, with many countries pledging help to rebuild the centuries-old priceless Parisian landmark.
Some of France’s wealthiest were the first to raise their hands and open their check books to pledge funding to rebuild the cathedral—with an estimated US$728 million pledged to date, according to Business Insider.
French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild the cathedral and said the building “is our history, it is our literature.”
“This is the place where we have lived all of our great moments, the epicenter of our lives. It is the cathedral of all the French.”
It seems Macron will have the backing to achieve it, as other countries are certain to donate resources or funding.
A statement issued on behalf of the Arnault family read, “The Arnault family and the LVMH group would like to show their solidarity ata this time of national tragedy, and are joining up to help rebuild this extraordinary cathedral, which is a symbol of France, of its heritage and of French unity.”
“In the wake of this national tragedy, the Arnault family and the LVMH Group pledge their support for #NotreDame. They will donate a total of 200 million euros to the fund for reconstruction of this architectural work, which is an integral part of the history of France.” pic.twitter.com/utvJT8xJht
— LVMH (@LVMH) 16 tháng 4, 2019
Below is a list of all the major donors so far, as reported by BusinessInsider. There have also been many pledges of donations from across the world.
- Bernard Arnault, LVMH’s chairman and CEO: US$226 million
- Bettencourt Meyers family, the owners of L’Oréal: US$226 million
- François-Henri Pinault, the owner and founder of Kering luxury group: US$113 million
- Patrick Pouyanné, the CEO of the French energy company Total: US$113 million
- Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, the CEO of the French investment group Fimalac: US$11.3 million
- Martin Bouygues, the CEO of the French telecom company Bouygues, and his brother Olivier Bouygues: US$11.3 million
- JCDecaux, the French advertising group: US$22.6 million
- Société Générale, the French financial services company: US$11.3 million
- Crédit Agricole, the French bank: US$5.6 million
- Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO: unknown amount.
We are heartbroken for the French people and those around the world for whom Notre Dame is a symbol of hope. Relieved that everyone is safe. Apple will be donating to the rebuilding efforts to help restore Notre Dame’s precious heritage for future generations.🇫🇷
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) 16 tháng 4, 2019
Additionally, the New York-based French Heritage Society launched a website on April 15 to raise funds for the cathedral’s restoration, reported Reuters.
“I fight back tears as I write this,” Elizabeth Stribling, the chair of the French Heritage Society, said in a press release.
“Notre-Dame is more than a religious symbol, it speaks of human achievements and great art.
“Although it’s located in France, it is part of great world art that informs our culture and heritage. We must all spring to action,” she said.