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University of Notre Dame Rings Bell in Support, Donates $100K to Rebuild Effort After Cathedral Fire in Paris

In addition to the donation, the school also planned to toll the bells of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the Notre Dame campus 50 times Tuesday

Hours after a catastrophic fire tore through the historic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the University of Notre Dame in Indiana pledged to help rebuild it. 

Rev. John Jenkins, president of the university, said the school plans to donate $100,000 toward the renovation of the iconic cathedral. 

“We are deeply saddened to see the damage to the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris, a church whose exquisite Gothic architecture has for centuries raised hearts and minds to God," Jenkins said in a statement. "We join in prayer with the faithful of the cathedral and all of France as they begin the work of rebuilding."

In addition to the donation, the school also planned to toll the bells of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the Notre Dame campus 50 times Tuesday evening, "representing the 50 Hail Marys of Our Lady's rosary" and marking "the start of the rebuilding process." 

The university isn't alone in its efforts to help rebuild one of the most iconic monuments in Paris. 

Billionaire luxury tycoons and two of France's richest men— Bernard Arnault, 70, and Francois Pinault, 82 —have also pledged massive donations.

On Tuesday, it was announced Pinault, his son and their company Artemis would immediately donate 100 million euros ($113 million) to help finance renovations to Notre Dame.

Hours later, Arnault shot back with an announcement that he, his family and his luxury company LVMH would pledge double that amount — 200 million euros ($226 million) — for the restoration of the church that was immortalized in Victor Hugo's 1831 novel "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" — an eternal story of obsession and jealousy.

Along with commitments from other benefactors, at least 500 million euros ($564 million) have been pledged to the rebuilding effort, NBC News reported. Apple CEO Tim Cook said on Twitter that the tech giant would be donating to efforts as well, "to help restore Notre Dame's precious heritage for future generations." Notre Dame, the American university, announced Tuesday that it would donate $100,000 to repair its namesake in France.

But the sudden outpouring of generosity has left the building's senior fundraising adviser frustrated, he told NBC News, since it's more than three times the amount that France's Ministry of Culture determined the building needed for renovation in 2014 — an amount that the church was still fundraising for when the fire broke out.

"The importance of restoring this cathedral is only in the full light today, which is frustrating because part of it has been burned in the fire and has now disappeared," Michel Picaud said.

Nevertheless, Picaud is "quite grateful" to the donors stepping up now.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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