National / World

French billionaire donates €100m; President Emmanuel Macron wows to rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral


Daijiworld Media Network - Paris

Paris, Apr 16: One of France's richest men François-Henri Pinault, married to the actress Salma Hayek, will donate €100m (£86.3m) toward the rebuilding of Notre Dame. French President Emmanuel Macron has also pledged to rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral, the 850-year-old Unesco world heritage, after a devastating blaze partially destroyed the Paris landmark, media reports said on Tuesday.

Pinault, a billionaire thought to be worth more than £19bn, is the chairman and CEO of the Kering group, which owns brands such as Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen. He is also president chairman of Artemis, the holding company that controls the assets of the Pinault family. In a statement given to the French newspaper he said that he hopes the money will help to 'completely rebuild Notre Dame'.

He said, "My father and I have decided to release from the funds of Artemis a sum of €100m to participate in the effort that will be necessary for the complete reconstruction of Notre Dame."

As per IANS sources, French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking from the scene of the fire on Monday night, described the blaze at the medieval Gothic masterpiece as a 'terrible tragedy', but added the 'worst had been avoided'.

"What happened tonight in Paris, in this Cathedral, is a terrible event," the President said, vowing to raise funds worldwide and bring the best talents from around the world to reconstruct the building in its entirety.

"Notre Dame is our history, our literature, part of our psyche, the place of all our great events, our epidemics, our wars, our liberations, the epicentre of our lives... So I solemnly say tonight: we will rebuild it together.

"Starting tomorrow, a national donation scheme will be started that will extend beyond our borders," he added.

The fire began at around 6.30 pm, on Monday and quickly caused the collapse of the Cathedral's spectacular Gothic spire and the destruction of its roof structure, which dated back to the 13th century.

Consumed by flames, the spire leaned to one side and fell onto the burning roof as horrified onlookers watched.

The massive blaze was brought under control by some 500 firefighters in the early hours of Tuesday morning, though officials warned there were still be residual fires to put out which could take several days to completely extinguish it.

The cause of the fire is not yet clear but officials believe it could be linked to extensive renovation works underway. The Paris prosecutor's office said it was currently being investigated as an accident.

The 12th-century Cathedral's iconic facade and towers were salvaged, as were a host of invaluable artefacts and works of art stored inside, including the Holy Crown, believed by many to be from the crown of thorns placed on the head of Jesus Christ and which the cathedral calls its 'most precious and most venerated relic'.

A tunic, which King Louis IX is said to have worn when he brought the crown of thorns to Paris, was also saved.

"We had a chain of solidarity, especially in saving the works of art... (They) were able to be saved and put in a safe place," said Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.

Thousands of people gathered in the streets around the Cathedral, observing the flames in silence. Some could be seen openly weeping, while others sang hymns or said prayers.

Several churches around Paris rang their bells in response to the blaze, which happened as Catholics celebrate Holy Week.

Messages of support and mourning poured in from around the world.

The Vatican said the Holy Sea learned with 'shock and sadness the news of the terrible fire that devastated the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, symbol of Christianity in France and in the world'.

The fire at the Notre Dame cathedral "goes beyond Paris", the city's archbishop, Michel Christian Alain Aupetit, told CNN.

US President Donald Trump called it a 'terrible, terrible fire', while the Unesco said it stood 'at France's side to save and restore this priceless heritage', visited by almost 13 million visitors each year, more than the Eiffel Tower.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the Notre-Dame a 'symbol of French and European culture'.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said in a tweet: "My thoughts are with the people of France tonight and with the emergency services who are fighting the terrible blaze at Notre-Dame cathedral."

UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres said: "Horrified by the pictures coming from Paris with the fire engulfing Notre Dame Cathedral - a unique example of world heritage that has stood tall since the 14th century..."

The Notre Dame's foundation stone was laid in 1163 by Pope Alexander III and the Cathedral was completed in the 13th century.

Today, with its towers, spire, flying buttresses and stained glass, Notre Dame is considered a feat of architecture as well as a major religious and cultural symbol of France. It is one of Paris' most popular attractions, drawing an estimated 13 million visitors a year.

It was the site of Napoleon Bonaparte's coronation as Emperor in 1804. The central spire was built in the 19th century amid a broad restoration effort, partly buoyed by the success of Victor Hugo's novel 'The Hunchback of Notre-Dame' in 1831.

The Cathedral also houses the grand organ, one of the world's most famous musical instruments, as well as the Crown of Thorns, a relic of the passion of Christ.

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Comment on this article

  • Jossey Saldanha, Mumbai

    Tue, Apr 16 2019

    Only in the darkness you can see Stars - M L King ...

    DisAgree [2] Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • Harold Dcunha, Mangalore, India.

    Tue, Apr 16 2019

    After darkness of night , one can see the clear sky in the day.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Harold Dcunha, Mangalore, India.

    Tue, Apr 16 2019

    There is a divine reason why the Notre Dame Cathedral got fire which is beyond one's imagination. The entire French Nation is united and weeps for this great loss. Now they have started, how to rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral. Similarly they have to rebuild French Nation, for the values what they have stood for so many years.

    DisAgree Agree [14] Reply Report Abuse

  • OSWALD VAZ, THOTTAM/BAHRAIN

    Tue, Apr 16 2019

    In the Saved relics of French Cathedral fire A Piece of Cross along with Crown of Thorns believed to be worn by Jesus Christ before his crucifixion.

    DisAgree Agree [20] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jossey Saldanha, Mumbai

    Tue, Apr 16 2019

    Not many Religions have proof of their Existence ...

    DisAgree [3] Agree [10] Reply Report Abuse

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