Notre Dame Fire, 5 Years Later: What Are the Plans for Reopening the Cathedral in Paris?

Despite the disaster, except for the main altar, all the works of art in the cathedral and the reliquary containing the crown of thorns were rescued and safely stored in different places.

Approximately 1,000 people have been working daily on the restoration of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris, France.
Approximately 1,000 people have been working daily on the restoration of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris, France. (photo: Sumit Surai / CC BY-SA 4.0)

On April 15, 2019, Paris witnessed one of the most devastating tragedies in its recent history. Notre Dame Cathedral, a religious, architectural, and cultural symbol that had withstood the passage of time, was engulfed in flames.

The fire, which originated in the space under the roof, quickly spread through the wooden rafters of the attic loaded with centuries of history and flammable material. The flames consumed the iconic spire of the cathedral, which collapsed in a dense column of smoke.

Despite the disaster, except for the main altar, all the works of art in the cathedral and the reliquary containing the crown of thorns were rescued and safely stored in different places.

The archbishop of Paris, Laurent Ulrich, announced in a pastoral letter that the reopening of the cathedral is scheduled to begin with a triduum on Dec. 7 that will include the official inauguration in which the French state, which actually owns the cathedral, turns it over to the Catholic Church for the use of worship. A liturgical celebration with a Magnificat or a Te Deum will be held that day and then vespers.

The consecration of the altar is scheduled to take place on Sunday, Dec. 8, during the first Mass in the restored cathedral. Finally, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception will be celebrated, which this year is moved to Dec. 9 because the feast falls on the second Sunday of Advent.

In addition to the events for the reopening of Notre Dame, the archbishop of Paris announced an octave from Dec. 8–15, with each day featuring a solemn celebration with a particular theme.

Architect Philippe Villeneuve was in charge of supervising the restoration of the church, working with a team of professionals to reconstruct the cathedral according to its original design, including the spire, which was designed by architect Eugène Viollet-le-duc in the 19th century.

Reconstruction work began just 24 months after the tragic incident. The first phase consisted of cleaning and securing the site with the participation of more than 200 different companies.

Those responsible for the project have estimated that approximately 1,000 people have been working daily on the restoration process.

According to the Rebuilding Notre Dame de Paris project, the task of restoring the cathedral is estimated to have cost about $767 million. Thankfully, the global response has been overwhelming: A total of approximately $928 million has been raised to date, given by donors from 150 countries.

Notre Dame Cathedral before the April 15, 2019, fire

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