Notre Dame, Paris

A Miracle for Holy Week at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris


This week’s news of the tragic and devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral on April 15th brought shock and dismay to the entire world.  The Cathedral is a considered a national treasure, the second most iconic piece of French architecture after the Eiffel Tower, and visited by 13 million people annually, caught on fire after an apparent electrical short during renovation work on the rooftop.  By nightfall, almost the entire rooftop was ablaze and the steeple had collapsed.  The world watched as firefighters attempted to contain the blaze and stunned Parisians and visitors looked on in dismay.  Just hours before, Palm Sunday services had been celebrated as the start to Holy Week services culminating in Easter Sunday mass.

Yet through the despair of the evening, even as faithful gathered in prayer and singing hymns within sight of the Cathedral, signs of a Holy Week miracle were evident.  As the fire first became controlled and eventually put out after an excruciating 12 hours, news that the overall structure, including the twin bell towers, were intact was followed by the revelation that had the blaze continued for another half hour, almost the entire structure would have been lost.  

Still more good news followed.

The iconic Cathedral spire and much of the ancient wooden roof has been lost, along with church pews and other items either burnt or irreparably damaged from smoke, soot and falling debris.  The cost of restoration along with lost tourism and pilgrimage revenue will run into the hundreds of millions. Restoration efforts will take years, if not more than a decade, to fully complete.  Yet tragic and saddening the fire may be, we should take note of the signs of God’s love of this building and its priceless treasures, as well as the strong show of support the faithful and friends of the faithful of the world have shown to the Cathedral community, to Paris, France and the Catholic Church as whole.  May the sight of French faithful singing hymns of praise, the news of generous donors offering hundreds of millions of renovation funds,  and the survival of the Crown of Thorns during the very week when Christ’s ultimate sacrifice of love for the children of His Father.

The most precious relic of Notre Dame Cathedral, the Crown of Thorns, has been preserved through the heroic and quick actions of a clergyman and bystanders who volunteered to remove the most sacred treasures out of the Cathedral and into safety.   The Crown of Thorns, put on the head of Christ during the Passion at Golgotha, was brought to the Cathedral by returning Crusaders and has been kept therein with the utmost reverence for centuries.  Other relics were preserved, and many painting and decorative items that also suffered minimal smoke and soot damage have since been transferred to safety and will be restored by the competent hands of Louvre Museum experts. Priceless statues from the base of the spire had recently been removed during renovation, while the iconic three “rose windows” and the two primary pipe organs were not destroyed.  An important decorative piece of the spire known as the “Rooster Reliquary” fell to the ground in remarkably good condition. And above all, no fatalities and only three injuries of emergency services personnel have been reported. 

To watch a fascinating and informative documentary of how another iconic Gothic Cathedral was built, watch David Macaulay’s Cathedral on Youtube. 

Good Shepherd Pilgrimage will continue to organize pilgrimages to Paris, France as well as many other locations across Europe and the Holy Land. Contact Tony at for more information.  Have a blessed Easter, and pray to Our Lady (Notre Dame in French) for a speedy reconstruction of the Cathedral and the healing of the hearts of its congregation.

Brynne TurnerComment