The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., will host a special concert to benefit the Cathedral of Notre Dame on Friday evening, April 26, at 7 p.m. in its Great Upper Church.

The concert will feature the Choir of the Basilica and Johann Vexo, the Notre Dame organist who was playing at the time the devastating fire broke out at the Paris cathedral on April 15.

Titled Together with Notre Dame de Paris, the concert is free and open to the public, with a free will offering to benefit the rebuilding and restoration of this historic church that dates back more than 850 years.  The concert will celebrate the spiritual and cultural significance of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in the world as well as the hope for its future. No tickets or reservations are required.

Organized by the Basilica and the Embassy of France in the United States, in partnership with the Friends of Notre-Dame and the French-American Cultural Foundation, the concert will be broadcast live through the generous support of the Knights of Columbus on the Eternal Word Television Network and will be offered to other networks around the world.

 In solidarity with the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Basilica began a special online collection the evening of the fire to support its restoration. To learn more about this special collection or to donate, visit www.SupportNotreDame.org.

In solidarity with Catholics and other people of faith worldwide who mourn the devastation of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Washington, earlier announced that the archdiocese had donated $25,000 to support the rebuilding effort for the renowned cathedral. 

The fire that ravaged the Cathedral of Notre Dame consumed the centuries-old wooden roof and toppled the cathedral’s landmark spire. Much of the battle by Parisian firefighters to combat the inferno was viewed in real time online and on cable news. 

Monsignor Walter R. Rossi, rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, said last week that the basilica was launching a fundraising effort to support the rebuilding of Notre Dame Cathedral “because, like the National Shrine, Notre Dame is dedicated to Our Lady, and so she is our older sister, and family helps family when there is a tragedy. We're reaching out to help as best as we can.” 

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington is the largest Catholic Church in the United States, and is a national shrine dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, patroness of the United States, under her title of the Immaculate Conception.

In a statement after the tragic fire erupted at Notre Dame Cathedral, Cardinal Wuerl said, “In a special way, we offer our prayers and express our solidarity with all the people of France and particularly the faithful of the Church of Paris of which Notre Dame is the cathedral.”

The cardinal also noted, “It was with horror that I saw the pictures of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris ablaze. Having visited that magnificent gothic Church and prayed in it many times, I join all of those in France and elsewhere who receive this news with such pain.” 

Notre Dame, French for “Our Lady,” stands in the heart of Paris on the bank of the River Seine. For nearly 900 years, it has served as a destination for pilgrims and tourists and has withstood centuries of civil and religious turmoil, revolution, and war, including Adolf Hitler’s plans to demolish the church in the 1940s when German military forces controlled the city during World War II. 

The Paris cathedral housed many works of art and historical artifacts, including a venerated relic, the Crown of Thorns worn by Christ at his crucifixion, which was rescued from the inferno. Other works of art had been removed from the cathedral in the restoration that had been underway when the fire broke out on Tuesday.

The two main towers of Notre Dame Cathedral were also saved, as were its famous stained glass rose windows and its organ. 

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception hosting the benefit concert on April 26 is located at 400 Michigan Ave., N.E. Free parking is available at its lot and along Harewood Road, and the Brookland/Catholic University stop on Metro's Red Line is located nearby the basilica.

Debris surrounds a depiction of the Pieta by Nicolas Coustou in Notre Dame Cathedral April 16, 2019, a day after a fire destroyed much of the church's wooden structure. (CNS photo/Christophe Petit Tesson pool via Reuters)