Accessibility links

Breaking News

Notre Dame: Center of Celebration, Mourning, Evolution of France

FILE - The Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral is seen amid blossoming trees, April 3, 2019 in Paris. Nearly two weeks later it was damaged by fire.

The cathedral Notre Dame de Paris (or Our Lady of Paris, dedicated to the Virgin Mary) has seen a long string of history-making events in its 850-year history.

1163: The cornerstone of the cathedral is laid on the site of an earlier church, and likely a Gallo-Roman temple before that. Bishop of Paris Maurice de Sully is the driving force of the new church. French King Louis VII and Pope Alexander III attend the ceremony.

1231: King Louis IX places in the cathedral a crown of thorns believed to have been worn by Jesus during the crucifixion.

1345: Most of the basic elements of the cathedral have been finished, including both towers and the rose windows, but the cathedral continues to evolve over the next six centuries.

1431: King Henry VI of England is crowned King of France in the cathedral.

1455: The mother of Joan of Arc petitions a papal delegation to overturn her daughter’s conviction for heresy.

1537: James V of Scotland marries Madeleine of Valois, daughter of King Francis I of France, in the cathedral.

1548: French Protestants (Huguenots) raid the cathedral and damage sculptures they deem idolatrous.

1558: James V’s daughter, Mary Queen of Scots, marries Dauphin Francis, who becomes King Francis II.

1793: The cathedral is dedicated by French revolutionists to the Cult (Church) of Reason. Many of the cathedral’s treasures are taken or destroyed.

1801: New ruler Napoleon signs an agreement to return Notre Dame to the Catholic Church.

1804: Napoleon and wife Josephine are crowned Emperor and Empress of France. Pope Pius VII presides over the ceremony.

1810: Napoleon marries his second wife, Marie-Louise of Austria, at Notre Dame.

1831: Victor Hugo publishes his novel, “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.” The book highlights the fact that the cathedral is in disrepair.

1844: King Louis Philippe orders the restoration of the cathedral. The spire is replaced and gargoyles are added.

1900: Composer Louis Vierne is appointed the organist of Notre Dame. He serves for 37 years. He dies suddenly while playing a recital at the great organ. It is exactly how he said he wanted to die.

1909: Joan of Arc is beatified by Pope Pius X.

1971: High-wire artist Philippe Petit gives a tightrope performance on a cable suspended between Notre Dame’s two towers.

1980: Pope John Paul II celebrates Mass on the parvis of the cathedral.

2013: New bells, made from melted-down 19th-century bells, are installed in the bell towers.

2016 and 2017: Police foil plans to stage attacks at the cathedral.

2019: Fire destroys the spire and roof, but much of the structure and many of its treasures are saved.