You may have heard rumors yesterday or today that Notre Dame was closed and empty when the fire broke out on the roof.
But that’s not true at all.
As it turns out, they were having a Mass yesterday when the fire-alarm went off:
NBC NEWS – An organist at Notre Dame Cathedral had just finished playing a psalm and the priest had started leading the gospel for the evening services when the fire alarm first sounded, startling those inside the historic church.
In an interview with NBC News, conducted over FaceTime from his home in Nancy, about 175 miles east of Paris, the musician recalled the heartbreak he felt when he saw the beloved Parisian landmark engulfed in flames.
“It’s like seeing your own house burning,” he said, “it’s just unbearable.”
For those of you unfamiliar with a Mass, the readings come very early in the liturgy. So they weren’t long into the Mass before the fire alarms rang out.
The evening Mass began at 6:15 p.m. local time (12.15 p.m. ET) and it wasn’t long into the service when the fire alarm went off, causing confusion among church workers and visitors.
“Everybody was really surprised because it was the first time we had heard this alarm, so we didn’t really know what to do,” Vexo, 40, said.
It was then that people at the back of the cathedral — where the roof would later collapse — started to evacuate through the front entrance and the Mass had disbanded, he said.
Vexo, who plays at the cathedral weekly on Mondays or Tuesdays, first headed to the sacristy where he glanced at the alarm system, still in disbelief that the cathedral may actually be on fire.
“I was just thinking it was a mistake or a test,” he said. “I never thought that it was a true fire.”
In fact, he didn’t learn that Notre Dame was in flames until he was back at his Paris home, a short distance from the church, and a colleague telephoned him. Images of the burning building were already reverberating around the world when Vexo descended into the streets to take in the horrifying spectacle.
It would take 400 firefighters some nine hours to extinguish the blaze that ripped through the roof, destroying a spire and threatening to raze the historic Gothic cathedral.
I’m guessing since they were having Mass, no renovation was going on at the time.
So perhaps it was closed as a Museum because they were having Mass, but it’s just not true that no one was inside.
I’m glad to know that everyone got out unharmed, especially considering that it was the roof that was on fire.