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The Smoke of Her Burning

Was the Notre Dame Cathedral fire a symbolic warning?

By Hal and Betsy Mayer

On the early evening of April 15, 2019, a fast-moving fire broke out on the wooden roof and spire of the Paris Notre Dame Cathedral. It was likely caused by a spark from renovations in the attic.

The cathedral is a jewel of medieval Gothic architecture and has been a central landmark not only for Paris, but for all the world. Built in the 12th and 13th centuries for the worship of the Virgin Mary (Notre Dame is French for “Our Lady”), it sits on an island surrounded by the Seine River. 13 million people per year visit its premises—more than any other monument in the world.

Within ten minutes of being called, 500 firefighters arrived with special training for ancient buildings. 400 of them fought the flames that threatened the spire and the 13th century oak roof above the cathedral’s vaulted stone ceiling. The other 100 worked feverishly to remove the Notre Dame

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  1. “Restore Notre Dame as the Spiritual Center of Paris,” Crisis Magazine,, April 17, 2019.


  2. “The Omen of Notre Dame,” National Review,, April 16, 2019.


About the authors

Hal Mayer is the speaker/director for Keep the Faith Ministry. Betsy Mayer, his wife, is the managing editor of Last Generation magazine.