As firefighters struggle to contain the massive fire that has engulfed Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, people are gathered to pray. Videos on Twitter show people praying the Rosary and singing hymns outside the historic cathedral.
According to the commander general of the Paris Fire Brigade, the next hour will be crucial to efforts to save what remains of the Notre Dame cathedral, reported CNN.
“There’s a risk that the great bells fall. If the bells fall, it’s the tower that collapses. There are firefighters inside and outside. The next hour and a half will be crucial,” he told reporters on the scene.
“We need to win this battle and block the spreading of the flames. The most efficient action is from the inside. We are not sure if we will be able to stop the spreading of the flames to the North Tower," he said.
The fire began in the attic of the cathedral. The cause of the blaze is unknown.
“We are evacuating the most precious artwork that is being sheltered,” Gallet said.
The cathedral has immense importance to the French people—particularly French Catholics—and Catholics all over the world. The Vatican issued a statement to the devastating fire.
“The Holy See has learned with shock and sadness the news of the terrible fire that has devastated the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, symbol of Christianity, in France and in the world. We express our closeness to the French Catholic and to the people of Paris. We pray for the firefighters and for all those who are doing everything possible to face this dramatic situation.”
Normally, Notre Dame would be preparing for Holy Week when they displayed holy relics for the faithful on Good Friday. Catholics all over the world are praying that the cathedral can be spared from complete destruction.
"I just went next door to our own beloved Cathedral, Saint Patrick's, to ask the intercession of Notre Dame, our Lady, for the Cathedral at the heart of Paris, and of civilization, now in flames!" Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York tweeted. "God preserve this splendid house of prayer, and protect those battling the blaze."
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston also wrote, "We are a people of hope and of the resurrection, and as devastating as this fire is, I know that the faith and love embodied by this magnificent Cathedral will grow stronger in the hearts of all Christians."
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster in England, also reacted the fire. He wrote, "Who is not deeply moved at the sight of this great Cathedral in flames? For the people of Paris this is a disaster that touches their very soul."
Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris, whose home church is the cathedral, also issued a plea for his priests to pray.
"The firefighters of Paris are still fighting to save the towers of Notre-Dame de Paris. The frame, the roof, and the spire are consumed. Let us pray. If you wish, you can ring the bells of your churches to invite prayer."
Please pray for the people of Paris. This is a terrible tragedy and loss for the city.