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:

Dans la foule, près du pont Saint-Michel, ce jeune couple entonne un « Je vous salue Marie ». De nombreux passants reprennent le chant. #NotreDame

— Alban Barthélemy (@AlbanBty) April 15, 2019

Ave Maria

— 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)

— Henri Seckel (@hseckel) April 15, 2019

My brother @HinmanLabUCLA sends along this super sad video of Parisians holding hands, kneeling in prayer and singing together as they watch Notre Dame burning.

— 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

— Amy Solomon (@amybethsol) April 15, 2019

All Parisian are out in the streets crying: because beauty and Art have no religion, no boundaries, no colour… their are just universally beautiful @Paris #NotreDame

— 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.”


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