French President Emmanuel Macron Vows To Rebuild Notre-Dame Cathedral In Five Years
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On Monday, millions of people in France and across the world looked on in horror as the historic Notre-Dame cathedral went up in flames.
Despite the efforts of firefighters, the blaze spread across the Gothic building, ultimately resulting in the collapse of its spire and roof. There were fears at one point that the entire structure may be lost for good, but now the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, has pledged to have it rebuilt 'even more beautiful' within five years.
Addressing the nation last (Tuesday) night, he said: "We have so much to rebuild, so yes, we will rebuild the Notre-Dame cathedral, even more beautiful, and I want that to be completed from now - until five years. We can do it.
"It is up to us to convert this disaster into an opportunity."
The announcement comes after a total of more than €700 (£605) million in donations has been pledged towards the reconstruction project. France's richest man, Bernard Arnault, has himself pledged €200m (£170m) towards the rebuilding of the cathedral.
In a statement released by the Moet and Louis Vuitton boss, he said: "The Arnault family and the LVMH group, in solidarity with this national tragedy, are associated with the reconstruction of this extraordinary cathedral, symbol of France, its heritage and its unity.
"In the meantime, the LVMH Group puts at the disposal of the state and the concerned authorities all its teams, creative, architectural, financial, to help the long work of reconstruction on the one hand, and of fundraising on the other hand."
The sum sees him double the amount already offered by Gucci boss François-Henri Pinault, who also promised to help restore the world-famous monument.
The cathedral is 850 years old, and last year the Catholic Church launched an urgent appeal for funds to repair the building, which was showing serious signs of decay. The construction of Notre-Dame - which means 'Our Lady' - began in 1160 and was mostly completed a hundred years later in 1260. It has been modified on numerous occasions throughout the centuries since.
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, though it has been reported that it could be related to major renovation works on the cathedral's spire.
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
Despite the large-scale of the damage caused by the fire, all precious artefacts and artworks were salvaged from the building.
According to the BBC, these items included what is claimed to be the crown of thorns worn by Jesus before his crucifixion and also a tunic, which King Louis IX is said to have worn when he delivered the crown of thorns to Paris.
In a tweet, French journalist Nicolas Delesalle cited Père Frédéric, writing: "Good news: all the works of art were saved. The treasure of the Cathedral is intact, the Crown of thorns, the Holy sacraments."