The fund to rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral after it was partially destroyed has reached one billion euros, just two days after a fire tore through the historic landmark.
Reports the cathedral was ablaze started circulating on Monday afternoon (April 15), and soon Parisians and tourists were mourning the loss of its famous spire as it succumbed to the flames.
Most of the roof was also destroyed in the blaze, although the majority of the relics and pieces of art kept inside were saved – including artifacts such as Christ’s Crown of Thorns and the cross.
Initially, people thought the worst, with Notre Dame spokesperson Andre Finot telling French journalists, as per the Independent, ‘Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame’.
However, things started to look more positive as the hours passed, with firefighters extinguishing the blaze and the people of France vowing to rebuild the blackened building.
In a televised address to the nation, President Emmanuel Macron pledged to bring Notre Dame back to its former glory within five years.
As per Reuters, Macron said:
We will rebuild Notre Dame even more beautifully and I want it to be completed in five years, we can do it. It is up to us to change this disaster into an opportunity to come together, having deeply reflected on what we have been and what we have to be and become better than we are.
It is up to us to find the thread of our national project.
Donations began pouring in immediately after the appeal was launched, with donors having now pledged one billion euros in just two days.
Stephane Bern, a TV personality who helped launch the appeal, confirmed the news this morning (April 17), and said, as per the Daily Mail:
The billion-euro mark of donations was reached during the day.
These donations have come from private businesses and local authorities, as well as wealthy individuals who can afford to donate large sums.
French billionaire businessman Bernard Arnault’s family and his luxury goods group, LVMH, have pledged €200 million, while Francois Henri Pinault – head of the Kering luxury goods company – promised €100 million.
LVMH is the world’s largest luxury-goods company; it’s a business empire which includes Louis Vuitton and Sephora. Arnault came fourth on Forbes‘ Billionaire’s 2019 list, and has a net worth of $91.7B.
While many have praised those raising money for the fund, others have questioned why such fundraising efforts weren’t in place for the survivors of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
One person said it was ‘ridiculous’, while another said although the donations for the Notre Dame are ‘heartwarming,’ it’s saddening the same wasn’t done after Grenfell.
Actually can not believe our government is raising money for the Notre Dame when a family of grenfell survivors have been kicked out their TEMPORARY home as the government can’t fund them anymore. Absolutely ridiculous.
— hana (@hzsoul1) April 16, 2019
2 French billionaires donate €300million to Notre Dame rebuild fund already.
Where were the British billionaires or even millionaires offering to build new homes for the victims of Grenfell? Grenfell firefighters did London Marathon to raise money, our rich turned away.
— 🌹FishWicks bearer.🌹✋ #JC4PM (@eralcbear) April 16, 2019
Such huge amounts of money mean it’s more likely President Macron’s pledge of the cathedral being restored to its former glory within five years, will happen.
The money raised to restore Notre Dame Cathedral continues to grow each day, and it doesn’t look set to stop any time soon.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).