The world reacted with shock, horror and prayers to the massive fire Monday at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, united in grief and in solidarity with the people of France.
As the flames tore through the 12th-century cathedral, Spain’s prime minister offered France the help of his country in the recovery.
The fire is a “catastrophe for France, for Spain and for Europe,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez tweeted, adding that the flames are destroying “850 years of history, architecture, painting and sculpture.”
U.S. President Donald Trump, speaking at the start of an appearance in Minnesota, spoke of the “terrible, terrible fire” that was destroying “one of the great treasures of the world.”
“It’s a part of our growing up, it’s a part of our culture, it’s a part of our lives,” Trump said of the landmark.
The Notre Dame Cathedral, situated on an island in the Seine River in the heart of Paris, is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world, drawing some 13 million people each year. The fire’s emotional impact was widely felt. People from many parts of the world described in Facebook posts how they cried when they heard about the fire.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama posted an old photo of himself, his wife and their two daughters lighting candles in the cathedral.
“Notre Dame is one of the world’s great treasures, and we’re thinking of the people of France in your time of grief,” Obama said on Twitter.
The Vatican said Pope Francis “has seen with shock and sadness the news of the terrible fire that has devastated the Cathedral of Notre Dame, symbol of Christianity in France and in the world.”
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, prayed at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan for intercession.
“God preserve this splendid house of prayer, and protect those battling the blaze,” Dolan said in a statement.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted that he’s “horrified,” calling the cathedral “a unique example of world heritage.”
In Russia, the Russian Orthodox Church’s secretary for inter-Christian relations Hieromonk Stefan called the fire “a tragedy for the entire Christian world and for all who appreciate the cultural significance of this temple,” the state news agency RIA-Novosti reported:
On Twitter, Trump suggested using planes to drop water on the flames. France’s Civil Security agency said that wasn’t feasible.
“All means are being used, except for water-bombing aircrafts which, if used, could lead to the collapse of the entire structure of the cathedral,” the agency tweeted.