The alert went out around 6:50 p.m. on April 15, 2019, but the fire that disfigured Notre-Dame de Paris could not be contained until the early morning of April 16. While the fire was mostly in the attics of the cathedral, the spire burned and collapsed on itself. “Two-thirds of Notre-Dame’s roof has been ravaged,” said General Jean-Claude Gallet, commander of the Paris Fire Brigade.
The restoration of the spire and the roof was the first phase of the work: the installation of the scaffolding started in July 2018—a technical feat of 500,000 galvanized steel tubes supported on the four pillars of the transept—was about to be completed. This first phase of work, financed by the state for about 11 million euros, was being raised to 150 million euros. But on Holy Monday, April 15, 2019, shortly before 8 p.m., the spire that was once again to become a brilliant jewel, collapsed and burned in an infernal crash that left the many witnesses on the scene speechless.
The spire as the image of its cathedral, of Paris, of France, carrying the Catholic fervor of a whole people, vanished as well.
The first spire was built above the crossing of the transept around A.D. 1250. It was a bell tower which until the 17th century contained up to five bells. It was dismantled from 1786 to 1792. During the restoration of the cathedral, Viollet-le-Duc decided to put a second spire in place, whose frame would be independent of that of the forest, on an octagonal base resting on the four pillars of the transept.
In 1860, he commissioned the carpenter Bellu for this work. The model was the two-story spire invented in Orleans in 1852, which would distance it completely from that of the 13th century. In addition, this spire was no longer a bell tower.
The spire dominated the copper verdigris statues of the 12 apostles with the symbols of the four evangelists, which, providentially, had been lowered down from the roof a few days before the tragedy of April 15. It should be noted that Viollet-le-Duc had himself represented as St. Thomas with his square. He seemed to contemplate the summit of his “Great Work.”
On the pinnacle proudly stood a cock that contained three relics: a fragment of the Holy Crown of Thorns, a relic of St. Denis, and one of St. Genevieve. Thus it constituted a veritable “spiritual lightning rod” protecting all those who work for the praise of God, inside the cathedral, image of the heavenly Jerusalem. It was Cardinal Verdier, Archbishop of Paris, who put the relics back in the canons’ chapter room on October 25, 1935.
But since the 19th century, the structure of the spire has oxidized; worse, the arches that supported the vault weakened under the pressure of the walls, and some of these had cracked, and then, in addition, the statues have suffered erosion—hence, the importance of a restoration, about which FSSPX.News reported on June 12, 2018.
Falling into the burning “forest,” an incredible structure containing the trunks of trees from the time of Charlemagne, in an instant, the flaming spire consumed the plans for a promising restoration.
All that remains is to pray for Our Lady of Paris to recover her brilliance, for the city to recover her faith, and the nation her rank as the worthy eldest daughter of the Church, as soon as possible.