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.