Notre Dame Cathedral, one of the world’s most recognizable structures and a sacred space for French Catholics, is engulfed in flames and authorities are fearing the worst, just as the Catholic Church enters its most sacred week of the year, Holy Week.
The 13th century cathedral, which sits along the Siene river in the heart of Paris, began burning around 12pm EST, and the structure, which has an almost entirely wooden roof, was quickly consumed in the flames. As of publishing, the cathedral’s entire roof is on fire and the building’s iconic spire had collapsed.
A local amateur photographer captured the heartbreaking moment for socal media.
— Kinsley Laurence (@KinsleyLaurence) April 15, 2019
The roof has also collapsed into the church.
BREAKING: The roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral has collapsed into the church pic.twitter.com/8caUCgVlQp
— LIVE Breaking News (@NewsBreaking) April 15, 2019
At around 3 p.m. EST the fire spread to one of the church’s iconic towers.
French authorities say they do not know how the blaze began. The cathedral was under renovation and scaffolding covered the area where flames first appeared, but arson — partcularly church desecration — is not uncommon in Paris, and French prosecutors say they are opening an investigation.
Paris Mayor Anne Hildago and French President Emmanuel Macron are reportedly on scene along with firefighters. Macron made a brief statement on Twitter before dispatching to the cathedral.
“Notre-Dame de Paris in flames,” Macron tweeted. “Emotion of a whole nation. My thoughts are with all Catholics and for all French. Like all our compatriots, I am sad tonight to see this part of us burn.”
According to NBC News, there have been no confirmed deaths or injuries, but Notre Dame is home to thousands of priceless works of art which are now in grave danger. The church is also the final resting place for hundreds of relics — the remains of Catholic saints — including what Catholics believe to be the Crown of Thornes that Jesus Christ was given by Roman soldiers in mockery, hours before His crucifixion.
The Knights of the Holy Sepluchre, a Catholic organization charged with ensuring the maintenance of artifacts and relics, reports that many of the artifacts and relics have been rescued. A journalist on the ground in Paris tweeted that the precious treasures held inside the church had been almost completely removed.
This is a breaking news story and the Daily Wire will update as necessary.