Notre-Dame Reconstruction Resumes
Notre-Dame reconstruction work ceased in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, with the decline of the virus and the gradual reopening of Paris, France and Europe in general, work is slowly starting up again on Notre-Dame Cathedral.
After a three-month hiatus, Notre-Dame reconstruction work resumed June 8. This renewed phase of construction will focus on removing the burnt scaffolding of the spire made of 30,000 tubes weighing 300 tons. This work should last until September but is subject to change as it is a delicate process.
Restoration work on the Grand Organ
Restoration will also begin on the Grand Organ and work is planned on the Choir Organ. The pipes of the Grand Organ will be removed and sent for expert restoration. The Choir Organ suffered water damage as a result of the fire, and only the metal pipes could be salvaged. It will need to be entirely rebuilt. These efforts are scheduled to take place later in the fall.
5 Facts about Notre-Dame’s Grand Organ:
- The pipe organ is the largest in France and is of Notre-Dame Cathedral’s most important objects.
- It has five keyboards and almost 8,000 pipes.
- It can trace its origins to the 1400s. The current organ is mainly from 1868 and had been added to and improved many times over the centuries.
- Notre-Dame has two main organists: Olivier Latry and Vincent Dubois.
- During the French Revolution, many organs in France were vandalized by revolutionaries who took the pipes and melted them down to make bullets. Notre-Dame Cathedral’s Grand Organ survived with only some of its decorative elements removed. Supposedly, the organist at the time frequently played “La Marseillaise”, placating the revolutionaries.
Interested in supporting the restoration of the Grand Organ? Donate here
Learn more about the work done so far and how the Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris community is an important part of those efforts.
Notre-Dame’s Square Reopens
On May 31, the square in front of Notre-Dame de Paris reopened for the first time in more than a year. It was closed to the public following the fire on April 15, 2019 because of lead pollution caused by the blaze the destroyed the spire, which contained many structural elements made of lead.
Health authorities have stated that regular sampling and cleanings will be carried out to monitor the square and ensure that there is no lingering contamination.
With the reopening, the public can access the square once more.
Installation of “Virgin of the Pillar” Replica
A replica of the statue of Notre-Dame de Paris, also known as the “Virgin of the Pillar”, was installed in the square on June 12. Several days later, on June 16, it was blessed by Archbishop Michel Aupetit, Archbishop of Paris in the presence of Monsignor Patrick Chauvet, Rector of the cathedral.
During the April 15 fire, this statue representing a Madonna and Child was spared from flames and falling rocks, despite its location at the foot of the southeast pillar of the cathedral transept under the vault which partly collapsed. Since April 2019, the statue has been installed in the church of Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois.
About the Statue of Notre Dame de Paris, Madonna and Child
The sculpture dates from the middle of the 14th century. It originates from the Saint-Aignan chapel, located in the former cloister of the canons, on the Ile de la Cité at the heart of Paris. In 1818, it was transferred to Notre-Dame Cathedral to be placed on the pier of the portal of the Virgin, replacing the Virgin from the 13th century, which was destroyed in 1793. Then, in 1855, architect Viollet-le-Duc decided to move it against the south-eastern pillar of the cathedral transept.
An altar dedicated to the Virgin Mary has been found at this location since the Middle Ages and remains an important place of devotion today. Since the middle of the 19th century, this statue has been evoked under the name of “Notre Dame de Paris”, and embodies the image of the cathedral, “Notre Dame de tout l’Humanité” (“Our Lady for all Humanity”).
Exhibition of Children’s Art Celebrates Notre-Dame Cathedral
June 16 also marked the inauguration of an exhibition of children’s artwork depicting Notre-Dame de Paris.
The exhibition was organized by the diocese of Paris and the public agency in charge of overseeing the cathedral’s reconstruction. On October 15, 2019, six months after the fire ravaged Notre-Dame Cathedral, Archbishop Aupetit launched an appeal to children in France and around the world: “Draw Our Lady: the church you know or the church you imagine”.
More than 6,000 drawings for Notre-Dame de Paris were submitted by children, aged 4 to 16, from across France and countries around the world, including the United States. Through these drawings and accompanying words, all the children expressed their deep emotion at the fire of Notre-Dame Cathedral and their attachment to the historic monument.
A selection of 51 drawings make up the exhibition that is currently on display on the construction walls of the building site in front of the cathedral.
The exhibition was inaugurated by Archbishop Aupetit, and General Jean-Louis Georgelin, who chairs the public agency overseeing the restoration.
This exhibition is made possible thanks to the sponsorship and support of JCDecaux. The Philippe Apeloig studio designed the graphics for this exhibition.
Expanded Exhibition in the Nave of the Collège des Bernardins
Because it was difficult to select so few drawings from the impressive submissions of all these young artists, Monsignor Aupetit requested other drawings to be exhibited in the large nave of the Collège des Bernardins.
This second exhibition will be held from June 16 to July 4 and will allow everyone to discover a hundred additional drawings.