In a country given over to hardcore secularism, what does this even mean..?
I walked through the gutted cathedral… then the crucifix shone from what remained of the altar, a symbol of defiance in the gloom: ROBERT HARDMAN is among first witnesses inside ravaged Notre Dame
- EXCLUSIVE from inside Notre Dame cathedral: Daily Mail’s Hardman is first reporter to see charred remains
- He describes a scene of devastation, with sparks still cascading from gaping holes in the building’s roof
- But the crucifix still stands on what remains of the altar, a gleaming symbol of defiance amongst the gloom
Sparks and bits of flaming woodwork are still cascading from the remnants of the 12th-century roof.
The smell instantly sears the back of your throat like a dose of smelling salts and my feet are soaked. The ancient black and white tiles leading up the aisle are under a gently-flowing river of hose water from the fire crews pumping what seems like much of the River Seine from their elevated platforms.
Yet I can faithfully report that the Cathedral of Notre Dame is not entirely destroyed. Because I am standing inside it – alongside the French prime minister.
In the early hours of this morning, I was among the first people to be allowed inside the ruins of one of the world’s finest cathedrals following the fire which has shocked not just the entire French nation but much of the planet.
A blaze which begin in the cathedral’s loft at 6.30pm had turned into an all-consuming catastrophe by nightfall. Officials reported that the wooden interior of the medieval cathedral had been almost completely destroyed.