It was just before 7pm when she began to burn.
The last pilgrims to wonder at Notre-Dame’s medieval treasures had just stepped back out into the evening sunshine.
And then, invisible at first to Parisians heading home from work in the streets below, the deadly flames began to lick at the ribs of their beloved cathedral’s wooden roof.
From a single spark, it took just minutes for the now unstoppable blaze to destroy 855-years of history and to break the hearts of a nation.
The flames raced quickly through 110-metres of thirteenth century oak latticework known as “la forêt” (the forest) and up the 315ft spire and into one of the bell towers as a huge pall of smoke began to billow over France’s capital city.
Crowds that stopped to watch in fearful silence from across the River Seine screamed in disbelief as the flaming spire teetered horribly and then tumbled into the abyss.
Down there among them stood an old man, Jacques Cats, who spoke through tears as though he was watching a loved one die.
“I want to share my immense sorrow and pain in front of this catastrophe that has befallen Notre-Dame,” he told a BBC news crew, adding that his three children had been baptised there.
“It has been ruined by a stupid fire.”
The crowds, joined by their stunned President Emmanuel Macron, could do nothing but bear witness and pray – some singing the hymn Ave Maria – as 400 firefighters risked their lives to save a symbol of France.
Notre-Dame, a Unesco World Heritage site which survived the French Revolution and two world wars, is so much more than a building to them.
“It feels like the whole of France is burning,” said Parisian Valerie Boeda as Mr Macron promised that it was “part of France’s destiny” that the cathedral would be rebuilt.
The fire crews fought valiantly, risking their lives amid flames that reached temperatures of 800C to scale one of the Gothic cathedral’s towers to attack the blaze as one of their number fell seriously injured.
Despite criticism from Donald Trump half way around the world that they must use “flying water tankers” to put out the flames, they knew that dropping water from the air could topple the building’s stone structure.