A small Russian Orthodox church burnt down in Paris during the war in Ukraine

A small Russian Orthodox church in Paris was set on fire on Sunday as the war in Ukraine reached its 54th day despite global condemnation. According to information from the Parisian media Le Parisien, the Saint-Séraphin de Sarov church was set on fire, which transformed the wooden structure into a pile of ashes. The local government immediately dispatched firefighters, which prevented the massive blaze from consuming a nearby workshop and other 18th-century infrastructure around the block.

Firefighters evacuated three priests caught in the flames on Sunday, the outlet added. The wooden church in Sarov was charred “within minutes” along with the entire collection of relics from historic times, Le Parisien reported. Fortunately, the fire did not cause any casualties. Forensic experts are currently in action to determine if the fire was an accident or if it was a perpetual fire.

It is relevant to mention that the first chapel of Saint-Séraphin de Sarov church was built in the 1930s when the Russian community in the 15 arrondissements was one of the largest in Paris. A favorite haunt of Orthodox Parisians, the church was renovated in 1974. In 2016, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo inaugurated another Russian Orthodox cathedral in Paris amid diplomatic tensions with Moscow. While Russian President Vladimir Putin was supposed to attend the inaugural ceremony, he canceled after French President Francois Hollande indicated Putin could face war crimes charges for bombings in Syria.

The blaze comes at a time when Paris has yet to recover from the massive blaze that broke out and damaged the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral.

France celebrates 3rd anniversary of Notre-Dame Cathedral fire

Three years after the 12th-century cathedral was reduced to rubble by a sporadic fire, Paris is racing against time to restore the 850-year-old church, which is a gem of medieval Gothic architecture. The cathedral was commissioned by King Louis VII who wanted the chapel to be the representation of the political, economic, intellectual, cultural and religious importance of Paris. The resilient structure was deeply impacted after on April 15, 2019, the gravity-defying spire collapsed. Even three years later, the investigation is ongoing to determine the cause of the devastating fire that engulfed the international treasury.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, archaeologists at Notre Dame Cathedral announced they would open a human-shaped lead sarcophagus found under the floor of the chapel.

(Image: AP (representative)

Jerry B. Hatch