2019-04-16 15:31:30

"A Symbol of Unity": Why the Notre-Dame Fire Is So Devastating for France

France is reeling after a massive fire tore through Paris’s beloved Notre-Dame cathedral, built 800 years ago and a celebrated landmark around the world. Parisians looked on in shock Monday as around 400 firefighters attempted to get the blaze under control — some onlookers engaging in prayers and religious songs. The fire claimed the cathedral’s spire and ravaged parts of the interior, but the iconic twin medieval towers remain standing, as does the rest of the stone structure.

Two of France’s wealthiest men have pledged over $330 million to the reconstruction effort. The European Union has also vowed to help rebuild the church. Authorities have launched an investigation into how the fire started, but ruled out arson, saying they believed it was started by accident, likely related to the ongoing $180 million renovation of the building.

DN! speaks with Anne Lester, associate professor of medieval history at Johns Hopkins University, about the role of Notre-Dame in French cultural and spiritual life, as well as its significance to the wider world.

Amy Goodman Anne Lester Democracy Now! France Johns Hopkins University Notre Dame Fire Notre-Dame Paris

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