PARIS (AP) — When Flames devastated Notre Dame In 2019, the people who worked at the cathedral felt like orphans. But as the reopening of Paris’s world-famous landmark approaches, they are beginning to envision their return to the place they call home and are eager to breathe life back into its repaired stone and vast spaces.
The restoration of Notre Dame Friday reaches a milestone: one year until the cathedral reopens its massive doors to the public, on Dec. 8, 2024. French President Emmanuel Macron will don a hard hat and tour the fenced-off reconstruction site where stonemasons, carpenters and hundreds from others The artisans are working hard to meet the 12-month deadline.
When they finish their work, they will hand over the position to the priests, employees, choristers and faithful of Notre Dame. With prayers, songs and devotion, they will give the cathedral the kiss of life and celebration to put aside the pain on April 15, 2019, fire inflicted in French hearts and in the Catholic faithful around the world.
Notre Dame “is not the largest cathedral nor perhaps the most beautiful,” the Rev. Olivier Ribadeau Dumas, its rector, told The Associated Press this week, but “it is the embodiment of the soul of a nation.”
“The expectations and preparations for reopening are a wonderful sign of hope in a difficult world,” he said.
Henri Chalet, the choir’s principal director, already gets butterflies thinking about it. On the one hand, he tells himself that in Notre Dame’s more than 850-year history, its closure is just a blip and that he needs to be patient a little longer. But for a human life, “five years is a long time,” he said, and “unfortunately, in 850 years, it fell on us.”
“Obviously we’re eager to get back,” he said. “It really is our home, in the sense that we were there every night for church services and also for concerts every week.
“Now we really feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel,” he said, “with a lot of joy, excitement and a little bit of stress.”
When it comes to reconstruction, recent progress has been notable. Huge oak beams, joined together carpentry techniques They were pioneers when Notre Dame was built in medieval times. been lifted into the sky so that the cathedral can be re-roofed. The towering spire now points once again towards the heavens, rebuilt piece by piece behind 600 tons of scaffolding.
When Macron visits, the name of the retired French general who led the big-budget restoration before his death will be engraved in tribute into the wood of the spire. Jean-Louis Georgelin died in Augustin 74.
And when millions of Olympic visitors arrive in Paris to the summer games As of July 26, the reconstructed spire and roof should be complete, giving the cathedral a finished look from the outside.
Work on the interior will continue. The work of the last few months will include the preparation of the cathedral thunderous great organ of 8,000 pipes, the largest musical instrument in France. It survived the fire but had to be dismantled, cleaned of toxic lead dust generated when the roof was burned and reassembled. Renovations will continue after reopening.
The cathedral’s own workforce is also expanding. It was reduced to seven employees due to closure for repairs. Dumas, the rector, said a hiring drive next year will restore the number of full-time employees to nearly 50, to welcome the 15 million annual visitors and worshipers the Paris diocese is preparing for.
Chorister Adrielle Domerg, who was 10 when she joined the Notre Dame choirs and is now 17, said the cathedral is “almost a person” to her.
“A multitude of people, of dreams, of prayers gave rise to this,” said Domerg, who sang there for the last time with his choir days before the fire and longed to do it again.
“It’s going to be very emotional,” he said. “The cathedral, in a way, will awaken again and we will bring it out of the shadows.”