Parisians are mourning as a massive fire engulfs Notre Dame, taking down the iconic cathedral’s spire.
Firefighters have been tackling the blaze since Monday evening, and authorities still haven’t determined the cause of the fire or the full extent of the damage. In spite of the chaos, locals have gathered around Paris to pay homage to the famed church with hymns, prayers, and, of course, wine.
In a few videos shared on social media, Parisians could be seen gathered and singing the Catholic prayer “Hail Mary” in French. Others were kneeling in prayer:
— Alban Barthélemy (@AlbanBty) April 15, 2019
Ave Maria pic.twitter.com/lb6Y5XV05a
— Ignacio Gil (@Inaki_Gil) April 15, 2019
Aux abords de l’Hôtel de Ville, des passants s’agenouillent et prient (photos HS/CT/Le Monde) pic.twitter.com/xJso2B0SM6
— Henri Seckel (@hseckel) April 15, 2019
— Katie Hinman (@khinman) April 15, 2019
Notre Dame translates to “our lady” in French, and the church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Notre Dame’s large bell, Marie, is also named for Mary and has the phrase “Je vous salue Marie,” which means “Hail Mary” in French, engraved on it.
A journalist told NBC News that some Parisians “have opened bottles of wine to share while watching the remaining moments of Notre Dame” in the streets. Reports of people crying in the streets have also cropped up on social media.
I’m in Paris (totally safe) and the fire is just horrific. This is from 8 PM or so. Huge crowds in the streets watching & crying. Just devastating pic.twitter.com/kPQMMUCeuR
— Amy Solomon (@amybethsol) April 15, 2019
— Antonio Goncalves (@agoncal) April 15, 2019
Firefighters told Agence France-Presse that the fire was “potentially linked” to renovation work in the building. A spokesperson for the cathedral, André Finot, expressed concern that the fire’s destruction will be beyond repair.
“Everything is burning. The framework, which dates from the 19th century on one side and the 13th century on the other, there will be nothing left,” he told Le Monde. “We have to see if the vault, which protects the cathedral, will be affected or not.”