French police are investigating the arson after the fireplace in Nantes Cathedral
Valuable artifacts, the large organ, and the stained glass windows were damaged on Saturday after fires broke out in three places in a 15th-century Nantes cathedral in western France, according to the French authorities who have opened an investigation into the arson.
"After Notre-Dame, the Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral in the heart of Nantes is on fire," French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter. "Support for our firefighters who take all the risks to save this Gothic jewel of the city of the Dukes."
It took more than 100 firefighters three hours to contain the Saturday morning fire in the city of Nantes. It did not spread further, as the roof of the cathedral was rebuilt with concrete in 1972 after being destroyed in a fire, said Laurent Ferlay, director of the regional fire department.
The Prosecutor of Nantes, Pierre Sennès, said the fires, which are believed to be arson, started in three places in the cathedral.
A witness, Jean-Yves Burban, who runs a newspaper shop across from the cathedral, told Reuters that he heard a bang around 7:30 a.m. local time. "I am shaken because I have been here for eight years and see the cathedral every morning and evening. It is our cathedral and I have tears in my eyes."
"Today all Nantais and Nantaises are in this emotion, this sadness", the Mayor of Nantes, Johanna Rolland, was quoted as saying. "It is a place for all Nantais, part of our history."
A Rwandan refugee, a volunteer who was responsible for the detention the day before the fire broke out, was arrested, according to the BBC. His imprisonment was intended to eliminate inconsistencies in the man's schedule.
"We have to be careful when interpreting this police custody. It is a normal procedure," Sennès was quoted as saying.
Construction of the Roman Catholic Gothic cathedral started in 1434 and took 457 years to complete in 1891.
Last April, the Notre Dame cathedral, a major church that has long been a symbol of Paris, was badly damaged by a major fire.
The world watched in horror as flames consumed the roof and tower of Notre Dame, which both collapsed. The cathedral was being renovated at that time.
The construction of Notre Dame Cathedral started in 1163 and lasted almost 200 years. The Gothic church is one of the first to use flying buttresses, which form a separate pier at an angle and usually form an arch with the wall it supports.
Courtesy of the Christian Post