The Notre Dame Fire and Nostradamus Conspiracism: Don’t Forget the Name or Russia

So my self-imposed ban on Nostradamus writing hasn’t lasted a single posting cycle. (If you haven’t read my recent peer-reviewed report, check it out here.)

In the past week, the tragic fire which severely damaged Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was linked to numerous instances of conspiracy theorizing; especially that it had been a deliberate arson or some kind of Islamist plot. Given France’s recent history of terrorism, such claims had surface plausibility. However, it seems at this time that those rumors are not true; or at least that those who continue to believe they are true will result in having themselves labeled conspiracists.

Interestingly however, the inferno happened to spawn another wave of viral Nostradamus hoaxes which can be traced indirectly to Russian influences.

Julian Assange compared to the Salvator Mundi by Nostradamus conspiracists in the aftermath of the Notre Dame fire (perhaps it is actually a picture of Judas Iscariot?)

I found it interesting in a sense because the original, authentic Nostradamus prophecies do seem to have an inherently fatalistic style related to Catholicism (predicting the fall of popes in some cases and other Catholic tragedies); and because of the fact that Michel Nostradamus’ name is quite literally referential of Notre Dame itself. His family had been originally Jewish and used the surname Gassonet, before they converted to Catholicism under pressure and began to use the name Nostredame (‘our lady’). Later, when then-named Michel de Nostradame was in university or around that time (and was proximate to the linguist and scholar Julius Cesar Scaliger), he further Latinized his name to Nostradamus (a common practice in that era). In essence, Nostradamus’ changed family name is ‘Notre Dame’.

In a way, there is a direct connection between Nostradamus and Notre Dame, but it seems mostly in the family name; and potentially in the context of covert anti-Catholicism in the prophecies themselves emergent during the time of the French and Venetian inquisitions of the 16th century.

However, following the Notre Dame fire of April 15, Facebook users reshared this false Nostradamus quote:

“When the great cathedral glows red, so will begin the descent of man – Michel de Nostradame (Nostradamus)”

Snopes debunked it well. 

Over the following days, this quote seems to have been embellished and evolved a little further on sites like 4chan to add:

>When the great cathedral glows red, so will begin the descent of man.
>God eternal, from whence the blood of man shed, so shall the spire.
Curious words from our old jewish scribe here, perhaps he had a political bias?

Like the 9/11 Nostradamus prophecies, this whole series seems to have been a totally made up quote with no basis in Nostradamus’ actual writings.

(While I cannot find a direct Russian connection to this particular post at the moment, there may be an element of radical LGBTQ sentiment attached to it (based on the profile of the apparent original poster) and the emergence of other pro-gay anti-Christian conspiracy theories at the same time as evidenced by Snopes.)

These were not the only questionable Nostradamus posts or hoaxes however. The promotion of many can be connected to Russia.

In a classical example of ‘authentic’ Nostradamus prophecy being used to explain events in an post-facto way (as discussed in the first Snopes link), Astrologer Jessica Adams blogged on April 16, 2019 that Nostradamus prophecy predicted the Notre Dame fire. In large part, this convoluted assertion hinged on the fact that French President Emmanuel Macron used the term ‘emotion’ to describe the public response to the disaster, which is a word that also appeared in the Nostradamus quatrain (Century 1, Quatrain 51):

The head of Aries, Jupiter and Saturn,
God eternal, what changes can be expected?
Following a long century, evil will return
France and Italy, what emotions will you undergo?

Perhaps it might tell us a lot about Ms. Adams that she visually compared Julian Assange to Jesus in this article, in the context of what she referred to as a Leonardo da Vinci portrait of Jesus “which has disappeared and, just before the Notre Dame disaster, was allegedly found to be fake” and that is was “owned by a wealthy Russian [art] collector”. (Turns out even this assertion is inaccurate, as the controversial ‘Salvator Mundi’ painting was sold by Dmitry Rybolovlev at auction in 2017 to a Saudi royal and is now said to be owned by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. It does not seem that the painting has officially been established as a fake either, or that it has even truly gone missing. However, it has been featured in a conspiracy theory related to Trump, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Russia in this context.)

Russia’s state-owned Sputnik News hopped on the bandwagon, promoting Adams’ content / pro-Wikileaks/Assange spin as well as other Nostradamus-themed apocalypticism, inferring some kind of divine retribution for Catholic sex scandals. (On the whole, this is not a new trend for Russian media connected to the state and intelligence agencies to be quite negative on Catholicism (see an analysis of here related to the content of the preceding link). My back of the napkin content analysis suggests ‘Russia Today’ (RT) for example disproportionately reports on Catholic sex abuse stories, presumably as a result of long-standing Orthodox rivalries with Catholicism with a legacy dating back to the Great Schism.)

Another Notre Dame:Nostradamus example which appeared on 4chan on the day of the fire (apparently culled from Twitter) can be connected to Russian propaganda as well:

“In the Land of the Yellow Vests a mighty fire will topple a Lady,
Then will the Orange Man in the West lay waste to another Alliance,
and out of ignorance the Hawk will turn into a Pigeon
and ignite the Apocalypse of the Yields.”

Nostradamus, Quatrain 875.

What could it mean?

This obviously fake quote (via Twitter) was carried in stories by Zerohedge (as an example of humor found in the tragedy) and reposted on other conspiratorial sites aligned with Russian propaganda like ‘The Mind Unleashed’.

Looking at the post history of the original author on Twitter, he’s somewhat anti-American and ridicules the Mueller Report (as well as Trump). Presumably based on his name he is a Serbian ethnically, and based on the fact that Zerohedge carried / retweeted his post has views on finance (and financial apocalypticism) similar to that outlet. He seems to have a pro-Russian, troll-like worldview by this heuristic measure.

Altogether, this is a fairly strong conspiracy narrative related to Nostradamus along the lines of classical anti-Catholic sentiment (not to mention considerable anti-Islam and anti-Semitic sentiment via 4chan), modern fake news, and potential ties to Russian influence. While Youtube seems to have dropped the algorithmic ball when their site linked images of the Notre Dame fire to 9/11, there seems to be a similarly strong effort of pro-Russian conspiracists and useful idiots to sow societal division with conspiracy theories related to the tragedy. (Looks like we’ll have to wait a little while for John Hogue’s take.)

However, it still surprises me that nobody seems to be talking about how Nostradamus’ name is actually derived from Notre Dame.  I think that is pretty interesting,