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The archbishop of Paris and Catholics from around France and the world honored the firefighters who saved Notre Dame Cathedral, praying Sunday at a special Easter Mass for a swift reconstruction of the beloved monument.

The fire that engulfed Notre Dame during Holy Week forced worshippers to find other places to attend Easter services, and the Paris diocese invited them to join Sunday’s Mass at the grandiose Saint-Eustache Church on the Right Bank of the Seine River.

Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit handed over a bible that had been rescued from Notre Dame to the firefighters, who held a place of honor at Sunday’s service.

Faithfuls attend a Sunday Mass at the grandiose Saint-Eustache church on the Right Bank of the Seine river in Paris, Sunday, April 21, 2019.

Faithfuls attend a Sunday Mass at the grandiose Saint-Eustache church on the Right Bank of the Seine river in Paris, Sunday, April 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Aupetit thanked city officials for their support amid “the drama” of last Monday’s fire, and “especially you, those for whom this Mass is dedicated” — the firefighters who struggled for nine hours to contain flames that consumed Notre Dame’s roof and collapsed its spire.

FAMILY FROM VIRAL NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL PHOTO FOUND, DAD CHOOSES TO STAY ANONYMOUS

He notably thanked fire service chaplain Jean-Marc Fournier, who saved the most precious thing for Catholics from the fire, the chalice containing consecrated hosts that for Catholics are the body of Christ.

Police and a soldier guarded the entry to Sunday’s Mass, creating a long line to check bags before visitors could enter the 13th-century Saint-Eustache Church. It was unclear if the extra security was linked to an Easter Sunday attack on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka that killed at least 190 people and wounded nearly 500 others.

Notre Dame’s parishioners were joined by Catholics and others from around France and beyond. An Associated Press reporter heard at least six languages being spoken in the crowd.

NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL KEPT STANDING AMID FIRE WITH GIANT ROBOT ‘COLOSSUS’

“Everyone is affected by what happened to Notre Dame,” said Parisian Michel Ripoche. “Easter is a holiday we celebrate every year, all our lives. Clearly what happened at Notre Dame added to the importance” of today’s service.

The archbishop of Paris and Catholics from around France and the world honored the firefighters who saved Notre Dame Cathedral, praying Sunday at a special Easter Mass for a swift reconstruction of the beloved monument.

The archbishop of Paris and Catholics from around France and the world honored the firefighters who saved Notre Dame Cathedral, praying Sunday at a special Easter Mass for a swift reconstruction of the beloved monument. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Peggy Godley, visiting from Chicago with her husband and two daughters, “wanted to see what it was like to celebrate a Mass in Paris.”

“We didn’t get to see Notre Dame. We were hoping to be there, but it’s too late,” she said.

Faithfuls attend a Sunday Mass at the grandiose Saint-Eustache church on the Right Bank of the Seine river in Paris, Sunday, April 21, 2019.

Faithfuls attend a Sunday Mass at the grandiose Saint-Eustache church on the Right Bank of the Seine river in Paris, Sunday, April 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Notre Dame isn’t expected to reopen to the public for five or six years, according to its rector, although the French president is pushing for a quick reconstruction. Investigators believe the fire was an accident, possibly linked to renovation work.

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Notre Dame Rector Patrick Chauvet told The Associated Press on Good Friday that he has “plenty of hope, because I believe that from this suffering there will be a renaissance.”

He said he would fight for speedy rebuilding work.

Culture Minister Franck Riester said Sunday that most of the sensitive spots in the cathedral have been stabilized, including support structures above its prized rose windows.

“There remain some sensitive points in the vaulted ceiling, and so teams from the Culture Ministry, construction companies are working to remove the rubble that remains on the ceiling and progressively cover it up. And after that, we can say that the Notre Dame of Paris is saved,” he said on France-2 television.

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Hundreds of thousands of bees that lived on the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris have survived the devastating fire that erupted earlier this week, French beekeepers confirmed.

The approximately 180,000 bees were apparently intoxicated by the smoke of the flames, Notre Dame beekeeper Nicolas Geant told The Associated Press Friday.

“It’s a big day. I am so relieved,” he said. “I saw satellite photos that showed the three hives didn’t burn.”

NOTRE DAME FIRE LIKELY CAUSED BY ELECTRICAL SHORT-CIRCUIT, INVESTIGATORS BELIEVE

“Instead of killing them, the CO2 (from smoke) makes them drunk, puts them to sleep,” he explained.

Beeopic, a Paris-based urban beekeeping company, posted about the surviving bees on its Instagram page Thursday.

“Our bees at Notre Dame Cathedral are still alive,” the post said in French. “Confirmation from the site managers!! Our Lady’s bees are still alive!”

The day before, the company had posted a satellite picture of the hives that were still intact on the sacristy roof but said the fate of the bees was unknown at the time.

The three beehives were installed in 2013 on the roof of the sacristy at the south end of the cathedral. The sacristy, which is made of stone, sits lower than the cathedral’s main roof — made of wood — which burned and collapsed along with the spire during the fire on Monday.

Even though smoke is harmless to bees — and is often used by beekeepers to sedate the colony to access their hives — excessive heat can kill them by melting the wax that protects the hives. European bees, unlike some other species, stay with their colony in times of danger.

NOTRE DAME WORSHIPERS COULD PRAY IN ‘EPHEMERAL CATHEDRAL’ MADE OF WOOD; SATELLITE IMAGES SHOW SCOPE OF DAMAGE

“When bees sense fire, they gorge themselves on honey and stay to protect their queen, who doesn’t move,” Geant explained.

“I saw how big the flames were, so I immediately thought it was going to kill the bees. Even though they were 30 meters [nearly 100 feet] lower than the top roof, the wax in the hives melts at 63 degrees Celsius [145.4 Fahrenheit],” he added.

However, when Notre Dame officials got to the roof, they found the bees buzzing in and out of their hives.

“I wouldn’t call it a miracle, but I’m very, very happy,” Geant said.

The hives, which produce about 165 pounds of honey every year, were added to the sacristy as part of a Paris-wide initiative to boost declining bee numbers. Hives were also introduced above Paris’ gilded Opera.

Investigators in Paris said Thursday they believe an electrical short-circuit is most likely the cause behind the massive fire at the cathedral, though an investigation is ongoing.

Fox News’ Barnini Chakraborty and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Members of France’s “Yellow Vest” movement claim the image of unbroken unity that arose in the aftermath of the inferno at Notre Dame Cathedral – and the $1 billion in donations that rolled in to help rebuild it – is being exploited by French President Emmanuel Macron, and vow to be out in full force this weekend protesting social and economic injustice in the country.

“Can you imagine, 100 million, 200 million in one click!” Philippe Martinez, the head of the militant CGT labor union, told The New York Times. “It really shows the inequalities in this country.”

The spectacle of rival billionaires publicly pledging hundreds of millions of dollars to help restore the famed cathedral quickly festered into resentment for some.

NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL KEPT STANDING AMID FIRE WITH GIANT ROBOT ‘COLOSSUS’

“You’re there, looking at all these millions accumulating, after spending five months in the streets fighting social and fiscal injustice,” Ingrid Levavasseur, a founding leader of the movement, told The Associated Press. “It’s breaking my heart.”

She added, “What happened at Notre Dame is obviously a deplorable tragedy. But nobody died. I’ve heard someone speaking of national mourning. Are they out of their minds?”

The blaze that broke out at Notre Dame Monday captured the world’s attention and sent a shockwave through France, prompting Macon to vow to rebuild the cathedral in five years in a televised address to the nation.

MACRON VOWS TO REBUILD NOTRE DAME IN 5 YEARS, AS DRAMATIC FOOTAGE OF FIREFIGHTERS IS RELEASED

“It took him less than 24 hours to speak about the fire, while he made us wait for three weeks before addressing our issues,” Levavasseur said.

With Notre Dame cathedral in background, religious officials carry the cross during the Good Friday procession, Friday, April 19, 2019 in Paris.

With Notre Dame cathedral in background, religious officials carry the cross during the Good Friday procession, Friday, April 19, 2019 in Paris. (AP)

Decrying the struggles of low-paid workers and pensioners and accusing Macron’s government of favoring the rich, Yellow Vest activists — named after the fluorescent jackets French motorists are required to keep in their cars — have been protesting for 22 consecutive weekends.

Frustrated by the lack of government response, Levavasseur has stopped attending demonstrations in recent weeks but told The Associated Press she’s considering protesting on Saturday because of an even greater sense of being ignored since the Notre Dame tragedy.

And she’s not the only one feeling this way.

Yellow Vest protesters gather at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, Saturday, March 9, 2019. French Yellow Vests protested for a 17th straight weekend in Paris and other cities against the government's economic policies they see as favoring the rich.

Yellow Vest protesters gather at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, Saturday, March 9, 2019. French Yellow Vests protested for a 17th straight weekend in Paris and other cities against the government’s economic policies they see as favoring the rich. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

“The Yellow Vests will show their anger against the billion found in four days for stone, and nothing for the needy,” wrote Pierre Derrien on the Facebook page of a Yellow Vests group based in Montpellier.

More than $1 billion has been pledged for the cathedral’s restoration, and many French citizens believe the money could be better spent elsewhere. Some have also criticized the billionaires’ donations because their pledges make them eligible for huge tax deductions. The Pinault family has said, however, they will not ask for a tax deduction for their donation to Notre Dame.

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In fact, taxes have been one of the most pressing issues of the Yellow Vest movement, which has lashed out at Macron for favoring the rich by eliminating a wealth tax as part of his economic stimulus plan, while average French workers have seen their living standards decline.

Anti-rich messages have flourished on social media in recent days as Yellow Vest protesters coordinated their action for the weekend.

“A little message for all the patrons (Pinault, Arnault and the others), hospitals are on strike because they lack means, so if you can make a gesture…” a Facebook user wrote.

Meanwhile, dozens of others exhorted wealthy donors to be more generous with France’s underclass.

“Victor Hugo thanks all the generous donors ready to save Notre Dame and proposes that they do the same thing with Les Miserables,” they wrote on their social media pages, quoting French writer Ollivier Pourriol and his droll reference to Hugo’s famous novels about the cathedral and the lives of the poor.

Tristan, a Yellow Vest supporter who declined to give his full name for fear of being identified by police after he was banned from traveling to Paris during weekends to attend demonstrations, prefers to stay away from the polemics.

MACRON’S VOW TO REBUILD NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL WITHIN 5 YEARS UNREALISTIC, SOME EXPERTS SAY

He made a $90 donation to Notre Dame —  a lot of money for the 29-year-old, who works in construction. “I’m a Catholic, I’m a regular churchgoer, and I felt personally touched. Tears came to my eyes on Monday night.”

He added what shocked him the most was Macron saying the cathedral would be rebuilt in five years.

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“It’s obvious he never held a trowel in his life,” Tristan quipped.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Investigators in Paris said Thursday they believe an electrical short-circuit is most likely the cause behind the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral.

The French judicial police official, who spoke anonymously about the ongoing probe, said investigators still don’t have the go-ahead to search the rubble or work in the cathedral because of safety concerns.

MACRON VOWS TO REBUILD NOTRE DAME IN 5 YEARS, AS DRAMATIC FOOTAGE OF FIREFIGHTERS IS RELEASED 

Although authorities consider the fire an accident, possibly as a result of restoration work at the global architectural treasure that survived almost 900 years of French history, Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said earlier this week that the inquiry into what caused the fire would be “long and complex.”

Some 50 investigators are actively working the case and are expected to interview workers from five companies hired for the renovations to the cathedral’s roof, where the flames first broke out.

Firefighters are seen with a robot firefighter called Colossus, made by French robotics company Shark Robotics, outside Notre-Dame Cathedral after a major fire on April 16, 2019.

Firefighters are seen with a robot firefighter called Colossus, made by French robotics company Shark Robotics, outside Notre-Dame Cathedral after a major fire on April 16, 2019. (Getty Images)

On Monday, the fire raged through the cathedral for more than 12 hours, ultimately destroying its spire and roof but sparing its twin medieval bell towers. As the blaze roared, there was a frantic effort to rescue the monument’s “most precious treasures,” including the Crown of Thorns said to have been worn by Jesus.

Remarkably, no one was killed in the blaze, which occurred during a Mass, after firefighters and church officials speedily evacuated everyone inside.

‘I FEEL LOST’: NOTRE DAME FIRE DESTROYED A SPIRITUAL HOME 

A day after the inferno, French President Emmanuel Macron set an ambitious goal of rebuilding the famed cathedral “even more beautifully” in five years. Since then, donations have been pouring in all over the world. It surpassed the $1 billion mark Wednesday.

NOTRE DAME WORSHIPERS COULD PRAY IN ‘EPHEMERAL CATHEDRAL’ MADE OF WOOD; SATELLITE IMAGES SHOW SCOPE OF DAMAGE

The rector of Notre Dame Cathedral has also proposed building a small, temporary church on the plaza outside the monument so that the faithful have a place of worship while the cathedral is closed for renovation.

“We mustn’t say ‘the cathedral is closed for five years’ and that’s it,” Monsignor Patrick Chauvet told France’s CNews television channel. “Can I not build an ephemeral cathedral on an esplanade (in front of Notre Dame)?”

On Thursday, workers were seen securing the support structure above one of Notre Dame’s famed rose windows with wooden planks.

Police officers stand behind the security barriers in front of Notre Dame cathedral Thursday, April 18, 2019 in Paris. 

Police officers stand behind the security barriers in front of Notre Dame cathedral Thursday, April 18, 2019 in Paris.  (AP)

A huge crane and renovation teams worked at the site even after authorities warned that some of the structure remains at risk. Firefighters walked on what remains of the roof to inspect damage.

The island housing Notre Dame at the heart of the French capital remained largely empty and closed to everyone but residents. Businesses were shuttered and the usual tourist throngs were nowhere to be seen.

Passersby praised the French firefighters who helped save the overall structure of the cathedral.

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Paris is also paying tribute Thursday to the 400 heroic firefighters who rushed into the massive to save the 12th-century cathedral from collapsing and rescued its irreplaceable treasures from the bright orange burning blaze.

Several hundred Paris firefighters, who are members of the French military, filed into the presidential Elysee Palace courtyard for a gathering hosted by Macron to share what his office said were “words of thanks.” Top government ministers also attended.

Paris City Hall is holding a separate ceremony in the fire brigade’s honor that will feature a concert and readings from Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Notre Dame’s Catholic worshipers feeling misplaced by this week’s massive blaze that destroyed the cathedral’s spire and roof will be welcomed in an “ephemeral cathedral” of wood in front of the Paris landmark until it reopens, Notre Dame’s chief priest said Thursday.

“We mustn’t say ‘the cathedral is closed for five years’ and that’s it,” Monsignor Patrick Chauvet told France’s CNews television channel. “Can I not build an ephemeral cathedral on an esplanade (in front of Notre Dame)?”

FROM THE FLAMES NOTRE DAME WILL REBUILD

Chauvet said the temporary wooden cathedral would host priests who could address the millions of tourists who flock to the 850-year-old Gothic cathedral each year.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo supports the idea and has agreed to give over part of the esplanade to the church for a wooden structure, Chauvet said.

Recently released satellite pictures also shows the extensive fire damage to Notre Dame; pictured left is the cathedral in September 2018; pictured right is April 17, 2019.

Recently released satellite pictures also shows the extensive fire damage to Notre Dame; pictured left is the cathedral in September 2018; pictured right is April 17, 2019. (Satellite image ©2019 Maxar Technologies)

TED CRUZ SLAMMED FOR JOKING ABOUT DISNEY’S $5M DONATION TO NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL

The surrogate cathedral will be erected quickly, Chauvet said, though he did not give an approximate date.

On Monday, the fire raged through the cathedral for more than 12 hours, ultimately destroying its spire and roof but sparing its twin medieval bell towers. As the blaze roared, there was a frantic effort to rescue the monument’s “most precious treasures,” including the Crown of Thorns said to have been worn by Jesus. Recently released satellite pictures also show the extensive fire damage to Notre Dame.

Remarkably, no one was killed in the fire, which occurred during a Mass, after firefighters and church officials speedily evacuated everyone inside.

A day after the inferno, French President Emmanuel Macron set an ambitious goal of rebuilding the famed cathedral “even more beautifully” in five years. Since then, donations have been pouring in all over the world. It surpassed the $1 billion mark Wednesday,

NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL DONATIONS SWELL PAST $700 MILLION MARK

“It is up to us to change this disaster into an opportunity to come together, having deeply reflected on what we have been and what we have to be and become better than we are. It is up to us to find the thread of our national project,” Macron said in a televised address to the nation.

Macron added that Monday’s fire “reminds us that our story never ends. And that we will always have challenges to overcome. What we believe to be indestructible can also be touched.”

On Thursday, workers were seen securing the support structure above one of Notre Dame’s famed rose windows with wooden planks.

A huge crane and renovation teams worked at the site even after authorities warned that some of the structure remains at risk. Firefighters walked on what the remains of the roof to inspect damage.

The island housing Notre Dame at the heart of the French capital remained largely empty and closed to everyone but residents. Businesses were shuttered and the usual tourist throngs were nowhere to be seen.

Passersby praised the French firefighters who helped save the overall structure of the cathedral.

Benedicte Contamin, who came to see the cathedral Thursday said she’s sad but grateful it’s still there. She said this is “a chance for France to bounce back, a chance to realize what unites us, because we have been too much divided over the past years.”

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Paris is also planning a day of tribute on Thursday to 400 heroic firefighters who rushed into the inferno to save the 12th-century cathedral from collapsing and rescued its irreplaceable treasures from the bright orange burning blaze.

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Macron will also host fire crews for a special gathering, while Paris City Hall will hold a separate ceremony in the fire brigade’s honor that will feature a concert and readings from Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was criticized on social media Wednesday over a comment he made about Disney’s $5 million donation to restore the scorched Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

The Walt Disney Company, which was among a handful of corporations that pledged to help rebuild the almost 900-year-old cathedral after it was damaged in a devastating fire earlier this week, announced a $5 million contribution early Wednesday.

Responding to the news a few hours later, Cruz joked whether the cathedral’s restoration will include Disney princesses on the new stained glass.

MACRON’S VOW TO REBUILD NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL WITHIN 5 YEARS UNREALISTIC, SOME EXPERTS SAY

Within hours, thousands on Twitter condemned Cruz for what they regarded as a joke that fell flat.

In announcing their contribution, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger discussed the cathedral’s prominent role in the city’s history.

“Notre-Dame is a beacon of hope and beauty that has defined the heart of Paris and the soul of France for centuries, inspiring awe and reverence for its art and architecture and for its enduring place in human history,” Iger said in the statement. “The Walt Disney Company stands with our friends and neighbors in the community, offering our heartfelt support as well as a $5 million donation for the restoration of this irreplaceable masterpiece.”

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Days after a fire ravaged the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the Walt Disney Company on Wednesday announced their pledge to help rebuild the historic landmark.

The company – which released the animated movie “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” – unveiled their $5 million donation in a statement, saying that it’ll go towards reconstruction.

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In announcing their contribution, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger discussed the cathedral’s prominent role in the city’s history.

“Notre-Dame is a beacon of hope and beauty that has defined the heart of Paris and the soul of France for centuries, inspiring awe and reverence for its art and architecture and for its enduring place in human history,” Iger said in the statement. “The Walt Disney Company stands with our friends and neighbors in the community, offering our heartfelt support as well as a $5 million donation for the restoration of this irreplaceable masterpiece.”

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The blaze erupted at Notre Dame on Monday. While relics, including the Crown of Thorns purportedly worn by Jesus at his crucifixion, were saved and the main structure remained intact, the blaze collapsed the cathedral’s spire and much of the roof.

Among others who have said they would contribute to the repair efforts include French companies Total and L’Oreal, as well as billionaire tycoons Bernard Arnault and Francois Pinault.

Fox News’ Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Two university students are accused of igniting a massive forest fire in northern Italy last December and they were hit with the bill for the damages: a cool $15.3 million each.

The two students – identified in the Italian press as Alessio Molteni and Daniele Borghi, both 22 – were having a cookout to celebrate the upcoming New Year at one of their grandparents’ mountain-side homes near Lake Como when the blaze broke out.

Molteni told La Stampa that he and Borghi immediately called the fire department and “threw ourselves into the flames to try to extinguish them.”

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He claimed they were “scapegoats” for the blaze and that their barbecue did not spark the forest fire because there were “many outbreaks.”

Prosecutors said they traced the path of the fire back to the mountain-side property and said it had started from the embers from the barbecue.

MACRON’S VOW TO REBUILD NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL WITHIN 5 YEARS UNREALISTIC, SOME EXPERTS SAY

The fire, which last several days, destroyed almost 2,500 acres of forest on Monte Berlinghera, the BBC reported

The fine was calculated by forest police based on an established formula under local laws, which calls for a fine of $135 to $670 per square meter. The estimated damage was calculated at some 6,840 square meters, La Stampa reported.

His attorney, Ivana Anomali, slammed the fine, telling La Stampa that fining the two students such a huge sum made no sense because they would never be able to pay it.

“What is the sense of imposing a sanction of €13.5 million ($15.3 million) each knowing that these two kids, who are still students, cannot pay it,” she said.

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Prosecutors told local outlet Il Giorno Como that the fine was a “signal that we need to push people to greater responsibility in protecting the environment.”

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French President Emmanuel Macron vowed Tuesday that renovations to restore Notre Dame’s iconic 19th-century spire, vaulting and two-thirds of the cathedral’s roof would be completed in time for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

However, some experts fear that the ambitious timeline of five years set by Macron is just too fast and unrealistic.

Even French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe — while supporting the government timeline — acknowledged in an address Wednesday that it would be difficult.

“This is obviously an immense challenge, a historic responsibility,” Philippe said.

In this combination of photos, flames and smoke rise as the spire on the Notre Dame Cathedral collapses during a fire in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. 

In this combination of photos, flames and smoke rise as the spire on the Notre Dame Cathedral collapses during a fire in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019.  (AP)

NOTRE DAME’S GOLDEN ALTAR CROSS SEEN GLOWING AS IMAGES EMERGE FROM INSIDE SHOWING FIRE-RAVAGED CATHEDRAL

Medieval churches took decades, even hundreds of years, to construct – Notre Dame itself took nearly 200 years to become what it was before Monday’s destructive fire.

Even with new technology afforded to construction and restoration crews today, experts predict that restoring the jewel of Gothic architecture would likely take much longer.

Pierluigi Pericolo, in charge of restoration and security at the St. Donatian basilica in Nantes, said it could take two to five years just to secure Notre Dame, given its size.

“It’s a fundamental step, and very complex, because it’s difficult to send workers into a monument whose vaulted ceilings are swollen with water,” he said on France-Info. “The end of the fire doesn’t mean the edifice is totally saved. The stone can deteriorate when it is exposed to high temperatures and change its mineral composition and fracture inside.”

Emily Guerry, a professor of medieval history at the University of Kent in England, told NBC News that a restoration project for the 850-year medieval cathedral will take around two decades to complete – and even then, it wouldn’t be the same.

A view of the debris inside Notre-Dame de Paris in the aftermath of a fire that devastated the cathedral, during the visit of French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner (not pictured) in Paris, France, April 16, 2019. Christophe Petit Tesson/Pool via REUTERS - RC12F77ABC70

A view of the debris inside Notre-Dame de Paris in the aftermath of a fire that devastated the cathedral, during the visit of French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner (not pictured) in Paris, France, April 16, 2019. Christophe Petit Tesson/Pool via REUTERS – RC12F77ABC70

“This will be the largest, most important cultural renovation project in France for some time to come,” she said.

NOTRE DAME’S DESTRUCTION WAS ‘BOUND TO HAPPEN’ AFTER YEARS OF NEGLECT AND LACK OF UPKEEP, EXPERT CLAIMS

The most critical part of the reconstruction would be replacing – or restoring – the wood structure that held much of the interior of the cathedral together and well as part of the roof destroyed in the blaze.

Known as the “Forest,” the wood roof is made up of centuries-old oak trees that were added to the cathedral in 1220. According to reports, when workers began constructing the roof, they cleared 50 acres of oak trees of threes that were already 300 to 400 years old at the time. That puts the oldest timber in the cathedral at nearly 1,300 years old.

Experts said the roof cannot be rebuilt exactly as it was because, at the moment, France does not have the trees of the size that they were cut in the 13th century.

“In the Middle Ages … it was possible to find huge amounts of beautiful strong oak,” Guerry told CBS News, but overuse led to the destruction of many of Europe’s oak forests. “The ability to find around 3,000 more big, strong trees in the next two decades is going to be tricky.”

A crane lifts experts as they inspect the damaged Notre Dame cathedral after the fire in Paris, Tuesday, April 16, 2019. Experts are assessing the blackened shell of Paris' iconic Notre Dame cathedral to establish next steps to save what remains after a devastating fire destroyed much of the almost 900-year-old building.

A crane lifts experts as they inspect the damaged Notre Dame cathedral after the fire in Paris, Tuesday, April 16, 2019. Experts are assessing the blackened shell of Paris’ iconic Notre Dame cathedral to establish next steps to save what remains after a devastating fire destroyed much of the almost 900-year-old building. (AP)

This leads many to believe that Macron might be focusing on rallying a mourning country, instead of what is the reality.

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Peter Fuessenich, who oversees all construction work for the Gothic cathedral in Cologne, Germany, told broadcaster RTL on Tuesday that it could take decades to repair the damage.

“It will certainly take years, perhaps even decades, until the last damage caused by this terrible fire will be completely repaired,” he said, adding that it was “a tragedy with a European dimension.”

Notre Dame’s rector said Wednesday that he will close the cathedral for up to six years.

Bishop Patrick Chauvet acknowledged that the famed monument would close down for “five to six years” as he spoke with local business owners Wednesday.

He acknowledged that “a segment of the cathedral has been very weakened” but did not elaborate which section he was talking about.

HERO PRIEST SAVES PRECIOUS ARTIFACTS FROM NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL FIRE, BUT THE FATE OF MANY TREASURES REMAINS UNKNOWN

Nearly $1 billion in donations have poured in for the vast restoration of the fire-ravaged cathedral.

Experts have put this in the threshold of realism — estimating the restoration would cost into to the hundreds of millions, although they acknowledge it is too early to be certain.

Some criticism has already surfaced among those in France who say the money could be better spent elsewhere, on smaller struggling churches or workers.

A hole is seen in the dome inside Notre cathedral in Paris, Tuesday, April 16, 2019. Firefighters declared success Tuesday in a more than 12-hour battle to extinguish an inferno engulfing Paris' iconic Notre Dame cathedral that claimed its spire and roof, but spared its bell towers and the purported Crown of Christ.

A hole is seen in the dome inside Notre cathedral in Paris, Tuesday, April 16, 2019. Firefighters declared success Tuesday in a more than 12-hour battle to extinguish an inferno engulfing Paris’ iconic Notre Dame cathedral that claimed its spire and roof, but spared its bell towers and the purported Crown of Christ. (Christophe Petit Tesson, Pool via AP)

Construction operations around the church were already underway as teams brought in a huge crane and delivered planks of wood to the site Wednesday morning. Firefighters were still examining the damage and shoring up the structure after Monday night’s fire.

Macron is holding a special Cabinet meeting Wednesday dedicated to the Notre Dame disaster, which investigators believe was an accident possibly linked to renovation work.

But Paris prosecutor’s office revealed that investigators have still not been able to look inside the cathedral, as it remains perilous.

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Some 30 people have already been questioned in the investigation, which the Paris prosecutor warned would be “long and complex.” Among those questioned are workers at the five construction companies involved in work renovating the church spire and roof that had been underway when the fire broke out.

The cathedral – immortalized in Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” – was undergoing a $6.8 million renovation project when the blaze broke out.

The 12th-century church is home to relics, stained glass and other works of art of incalculable value, and is a leading tourist attraction. Its organ dates to the 1730s and was constructed by Francois Thierry.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Donations to help rebuild Notre Dame cathedral hit the $700 million mark midday Tuesday – with two of France’s rival billionaires pledging the bulk of the cash.

Just 24 hours earlier, the world watched in horror as 500 firefighters battled the blaze in Paris for nearly five hours. The extensive fire caused the cathedral’s delicate spire to collapse and burn through the roof of the 12th-century building.

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Nations around the world expressed solidarity with France and offered their support for the recovery.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced an international fundraising campaign even as the fire still burned.

“Notre-Dame is our history, our literature, part of our psyche, the place of all our great events, our epidemics, our wars, our liberations, the epicenter of our lives,” he said.

Macron added: “Let’s be proud, because we built this cathedral more than 800 years ago, we’ve built it and, throughout the centuries, let it grow and improved it. So I solemnly say tonight: we will rebuild it together.”

Since his comments, donations have flooded in to help rebuild the historic landmark.

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Bernard Arnault, who heads LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton in France, said his family and the luxury-goods company it controls would donate $226 million to help with reconstruction costs. LVMH also offered up an army of “creative, architectural and financial specialists” to help with rebuilding.

French luxury magnate François-Henri Pinault said his family would dedicate about $113 million to the effort. Pinaut heads Kering, a group of luxury brands including Gucci and Alexander McQueen.

“Faced with such a tragedy, everyone wants to revive this jewel of our heritage as quickly as possible.” Pinault said.

L’Oreal said the company, the Bettencourt Meyers family and the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation, would donate $226 million, while Patrick Pouyanné, chairman of French oil giant Total, tweeted his company would donate $113 million dollars.

Other big-money donors included Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, head of French investment firm Fimalac, who offered $11.3 million and American philanthropist Henry Kravis who also pledged $11.3 million.

Financial consulting firm Capgemini said it would donate $1.1 million while JCDecaux offered $11.3 million.

Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted the company would donate to helping rebuild Notre Dame though he did not include a dollar amount.

“We are heartbroken for the French people and those around the world for whom Notre Dame is a symbol of hope,” he said. “Relived that everyone is safe. Apple will be donating to the rebuilding efforts to help restore Notre Dame’s precious heritage for future generations.”

On a smaller scale, the blaze prompted several fundraising efforts in the U.S.  – some a little more successful than others.

The website Friends of Notre Dame – which was set up in 2016 to receive donations to help with renovation costs – crashed after a flood of contributions came in.

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At the website GoFundMe.com, more than 50 campaigns related to the fire launched Monday, John Coventry, a spokesman for Go Fund Me told Reuters.

“In the coming hours we’ll be working with the authorities to find the best way of making sure funds get to the place where they will do the most good,” Coventry said.

Source: Fox News World


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