While the church will not be open for Christmas, the restoration of the Parisian skyline will be a welcome Christmas gift for France.
This week, preparation work for the reconstruction of the spire of Notre-Dame de Paris is being finalized. The falling of the spire was one of the most heartbreaking sights of the devastating fire that tore through the famed cathedral in 2019, but the plan is to restore the 19th-century design of Eugene Viollet-Le-Duc just as it was before the fire.
Now, new estimates promise significant progress by year’s end, although the building will not open to the public once more until the Paris Olympic Games in 2024. While the faithful of Paris will have to wait to resume worship in the iconic church, the Parisian skyline will be restored much sooner, however, as the team plans to finish the spire by December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
According to France 24, the groundwork has all been laid, with 500 tons of oak and 250 tons of lead delivered by boat on the River Seine, in much the same fashion as the original materials were delivered in the 19th century. This is fitting, as the reconstruction effort will strive to recreate the spire and roof exactly as they were before the fire.
This desire for an exact replica of the French monument church has led the team to decide on replacing the lead for covering and ornamentation. The use of lead was argued by government officials, after the fire sent clouds of toxic lead particles through the city, which required a massive undertaking to clean. Good News Network notes that the reconstruction crew had to demonstrate that they have taken necessary precautions to ensure that such a biohazardous event could never again occur, thanks to newly installed safety features.
The prepping phase of the operation shouldn’t take too much longer, as the scaffolding for the project is already in place. The scaffolding will continue to rise as the spire is constructed, eventually reaching 100 meters high by completion.
Other areas of Notre Dame are also proceeding smoothly with the restoration effort. The massive task of cleaning the cathedral’s inner walls of dust and debris, an estimated 42,000 square meters, was completed in 2022. Meanwhile art restorers are busying themselves in a temporary hangar erected outside the church, where they are working to clean and repair Notre Dame’s many statues. The sculptures that were too badly damaged will be replicated.
While there is still much work to be done, the promise of an uncomplicated completion is welcome after so much devastation. Christmas celebrations may not be able to take place within its historic walls, but the restoration of the spire will come as a welcome Christmas present to the city of Paris, one that will likely be a central focus of attention as the world watches the 2024 Olympics.