The world reacted with shock, horror and prayers to the massive fire today at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, united in grief and in solidarity with the people of France.
As the flames tore through the 12th-century cathedral, Spain’s prime minister offered France the help of his country in the recovery.
The fire is a “catastrophe for France, for Spain and for Europe,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tweeted, adding that the flames are destroying “850 years of history, architecture, painting and sculpture.”
French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters near the scene that he will seek international help, including from the “greatest talents” in the world, to rebuild Notre Dame.
President Donald Trump, speaking at the start of an appearance in Minnesota, spoke of the “terrible, terrible fire” that devastated “one of the great treasures of the world.”
“It’s a part of our growing up, it’s a part of our culture, it’s a part of our lives,” Trump said of the landmark.
The Notre Dame Cathedral, situated on an island in the Seine River in the heart of Paris, is one of the world’s most visited tourist destinations, drawing 13 million people each year. The fire’s emotional impact was widely felt. People from all over described in Facebook posts how they cried when they heard about the fire.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama posted an old photo of himself, his wife Michelle and their two daughters lighting candles in the cathedral.
“Notre Dame is one of the world’s great treasures, and we’re thinking of the people of France in your time of grief,” Obama said on Twitter.
Notre Dame is one of the world’s great treasures, and we’re thinking of the people of France in your time of grief. It’s in our nature to mourn when we see history lost – but it’s also in our nature to rebuild for tomorrow, as strong as we can. pic.twitter.com/SpMEvv1BzB
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) April 15, 2019
Michelle Obama, who was in Paris today on a book tour, said “my heart aches with the people of France.”
“The majesty of Notre Dame — the history, artistry, and spirituality — took our breath away, lifting us to a higher understanding of who we are and who we can be,” she tweeted. She predicted the cathedral would rise again.
The Vatican said Pope Francis “has seen with shock and sadness the news of the terrible fire that has devastated the Cathedral of Notre Dame, symbol of Christianity in France and in the world.”
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, prayed at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan for intercession.
“God preserve this splendid house of prayer, and protect those battling the blaze,” Dolan said in a statement.
Jeff Ament, bass player for Pearl Jam, remembered spending hours at the cathedral in his first visit, in 1991, with record executive Michael Goldstone.
“Thinking about Paris,” Ament tweeted, with photos of the cathedral.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted that he’s “horrified,” calling the cathedral “a unique example of world heritage.”
In Russia, the Russian Orthodox Church’s secretary for inter-Christian relations Hieromonk Stefan called the fire “a tragedy for the entire Christian world and for all who appreciate the cultural significance of this temple,” the state news agency RIA-Novosti reported:
On Twitter, Trump suggested using planes to drop water on the flames. France’s Civil Security agency said that wasn’t feasible.
So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2019
“All means are being used, except for water-bombing aircrafts which, if used, could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral,” the agency tweeted.