April 12, 2021, was one year since a fire broke out in the historical Haitian monument called the Royal Chapel of Milot that is located in Milot, near Cap-Haïtien. The historical fire burned the dome and the inside of the Chapel. Many people all over the world have reacted to this historical moment. Many Haitian leaders reacted, included former Haiti President Jovenel Moïse and former Prime Minister Joseph Jouthe, who then called for an investigation, but later discovered that the fire was probably caused by lightning because no one was at the Chapel at the time the fire hit.
Remember, the Chapel is located near the Citadelle Laferrière that is located on top of a mountain in the Nord Department in Haiti. The Haitian authorities believe that it is possible that a lightning strike is the cause of the fire. Even the leaders in Milot said they have no idea how the fire started. For now, the investigation into the situation is closed, and the Haitian government along with UNESCO is working to rebuild the Chapel that is also called Chapelle Royale de Milot in French. Let me remind you that the situation is similar to the Notre-Dame de Paris fire that French President Emmanuel Macron said he will rebuild in France.
The Royal Chapel of Milot, also known as the Cathedral of Milot, is a religious establishment located in the Sans Souci Palace in Haiti. It is one of the most valuable monuments in Haiti and in the world. It was built by one of the Haitian revolution leaders and former King of Haiti Henri Christophe. Unfortunately, on April 12, 2020, at around 3 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, the historical fire destroyed the dome and the interior of the Chapel, without causing any deaths.
According to Haitian Bishop Alain Prophète, and the director of the National Heritage Preservation Institute Patrick Durandis, the dome was destroyed along with the interior as well, because the firefighters in Cap-Haitien were late on the scene. After the fire hit the historical monument, Bishop Alain Prophète, Director Patrick Durandis, former Haitian Presidents, former Prime Ministers, politician Werley Nortreus, the residents of Milot, and other leaders across Haiti reacted to the situation.
Back on April 12, 2020, the Mayor of Milot, Jacques Bernadin, said the police had been informed of the fire that had started in an outbuilding around 3 a.m. local time and had quickly called the fire brigade. "Because of the wooden ceiling, however, there was nothing they could do to save the church," Durandis suggests that it could have been arson. “On Saturday and Sunday there was no electricity in Milot, so I find it difficult to understand that the dome of the church has caught fire. We cannot say that it is a short circuit. It needs to be investigated. Even the park was closed because of the coronavirus epidemic."
“This church is the pride of Milot. It’s the pride of the North. It’s the pride of Haiti”, said Bishop Alain Prophète. “Saturday and Sunday, there was no electricity in Milot so I find it hard to understand that the dome of the church caught fire. We cannot say that it is a short circuit: it has to be investigated right away. Even the park was closed due to the coronavirus epidemic, it is hard to understand.” Said the director Patrick Durandis. “The Royal Chapel of Milot is a historical monument in Haiti and it is so important to me and Haitians. Let’s not forget that this place used to be the favorite place of King Henry Christophe. Unfortunately, it is so sad that this place is destroyed by an unknown fire. How exactly the fire has started?”, said the political leader Werley Nortreus. Former President Prosper Avril, who de facto ruled the country between 1988 and 1990, called for a task force to protect the country's cultural heritage. "The Royal Chapel of Milot is a testament to the history of our people," said Erol Josué, director of the National Bureau of Ethnology in Haiti (BNE). "The Haitian state should involve all strata of the population in the reconstruction because this is our legacy."
The Chapel is part of the Sans Souci Palace, and it is located at the entrance of the palace. The Chapel is also known as the church or cathedral where King Henri Christophe practiced worship and other spiritual rituals. The Sans Souci Palace is a palace in Haiti in the town of Milot, Nord, located approximately 5 kilometers northeast of the Citadelle Laferrière and 13 kilometers southwest of the Three Bays Protected Area.
The Royal Chapel of Milot was built between 1810 and 1813 by King Henri Christophe, the first King of Haiti. Among others, Christophe was a hero of the war of independence of Haiti, then proclaimed himself king Henri Ier in 1811. This place, which was built for the Kingdom of Haiti, is a monument of great importance in the History of Haiti. A violent earthquake in 1842 destroyed a considerable part of the palace and devastated the neighboring city of Cap-Haitien; the palace has never been rebuilt. The palace, before its destruction, was recognized by many as the Caribbean equivalent of the Palace of Versailles in France. UNESCO designated the palace and citadel as a World Heritage Site in 1982. In the 21st century, the palace welcomed visitors from all over the world.
A year after the fire broke out in the Chapel, UNESCO and the Haitian government are working to rebuild the Chapel more beautifully than it already was. "On behalf of Haitians, I apologize to UNESCO and the world for what has happened to the Chapel but the good news is the investigation has been closed and UNESCO and the Haitian Government are working together to rebuild the Chapel more beautifully than it was before. I got so many great ideas that so many engineers sent to me for the reconstruction of the Chapel", said Werley Nortreus, the political leader and founder of Vanyan Sòlda Ayiti and Haitians Lives Matter.