The world was left heartbroken on Monday when news broke that the iconic cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris caught fire. Parisians, French, and citizens of the world alike wept at the footage of tall blazes and billowing pillars of smoke emerging from the consuming fires.
The massive church, which is considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, is over 800 years old and is a huge part of French and European history.
It has been the inspiration for many literary masters like Victor Hugo, Marcel Proust, and Sigmund Freud.
Thankfully, the fire, which burned overnight, was extinguished Tuesday morning, but the damage is irreversible.
Firefighters were able to save the 850-year-old landmark’s stone structure and its two towers, but the building’s roof and spire collapsed in the blaze.
In a true testimony to the power of unity and how hope emerges from the darkness to overcome all adversity, donations to rebuild Notre Dame exceeded 650 million euros ($730 million) in the first few hours alone.
The first hefty donation came from Salma Hayek’s billionaire husband, non-other than Francois-Henri Pinault, chief executive of the Kering Group.
Pinault, whose holding group owns fashion brands Gucci and Yves Saint-Laurent, released a statement announcing the donation of $113 million (100 million euros), which was subsequently reported on Twitter.
“My father (François Pinault) and I have decided to release from Artemis funds a sum of 100 million euros to participate in the effort that will be necessary for the complete reconstruction of Notre Dame.”
A few hours after Pinault’s donation, another 200 million euros were pledged by Bernard Arnault (France’s richest man) and his company LVMH.
Plans for the building’s restoration are already underway. According to reports, the building will be restored as close to its original glory as possible.
The architects and builders will be studying hyperrealistic photos and videos of the cathedral to recreate it as faithfully as possible.
To keep the positivity going, we’re happy to report that most of the structure is intact.
Many artifacts and monuments were salvaged, including the stained glass rose windows and the Crown of Thorns (a band of rushes said to be from the original crown of thorns placed on Jesus’s head), which was rescued during the fire by Priest Jean-Marc Fournier, the chaplain of the Paris fire brigade.
In addition, the French firefighting chief told reporters that the main structure of the cathedral had been saved, “We can consider that the two towers of the north belfry Notre-Dame have been saved. The structure of Our Lady is saved as a whole.”
Pinault and Salma had tied the knot back in 2009 when the Lebanese-Mexican beauty confessed to meeting “the perfect man.”
Salma, whose father hails from Baabdat, Lebanon, is a regular guest and host of events for Lebanese communities abroad. Just last year, she was the guest of honor at a gala dinner organized by the British Lebanese Association in London.
“Everywhere you go [in the world] there is a Lebanese community and it feels like home,” she had said.
Hayek’s last visit to Lebanon was in 2015 to launch The Prophet, an animated feature film she co-produced about Gibran Khalil Gibran’s classic.