Notre-Dame de Paris finds its rooster, less than a year from reopening

A symbolic return

Notre-Dame de Paris finds its rooster, less than a year from reopening

A symbolic return. On Saturday December 16, the rooster found its place at the top of Notre-Dame de Paris, a strong new symbol for the cathedral ravaged by flames in 2019 and which is due to reopen in less than a year.

This emblematic piece was blessed on the ground in the afternoon by the Archbishop of Paris, Monseigneur Laurent Ulrich. Then it was transported by crane to the top of the spire, 96 meters high, under the capital's sun.

This is a new golden rooster, designed by the chief architect of French historical monuments, Philippe Villeneuve. The previous one was too damaged during the fire which ravaged, on April 15, 2019, the monument associated worldwide with Paris, like the Eiffel Tower. “Emu”, Mr. Villeneuve described this new rooster “with wings of fire”, which “reminds us that the cathedral can be reborn from its ashes like the phoenix”.

In Christianity, the rooster symbolizes the return of light after night. This gallinaceous, which is one of the emblems of France, is dear to the French. We find it on the jersey of the national football and rugby teams, for example.

Two thousand engraved names and relics

This new cathedral rooster contains relics saved from the fire, precious to Catholics. A sealed tube was placed there, with the names of the 2,000 people involved in rebuilding the cathedral. It’s “an unparalleled human adventure,” praised Philippe Jost, who heads the public establishment responsible for the project.

On December 8, President Emmanuel Macron went there, one year to the day before the planned reopening of the cathedral, to which he intends to invite Pope Francis. The President of the Republic notably announced that the former rooster would take its place in “a museum of the work of Notre-Dame de Paris”, which was to be opened nearby, on the Île de la Cité.

The spectacular fire that occurred in 2019 in this masterpiece of Gothic art and the fall of the spire live on news channels and social networks caused global emotion. And an equally significant outpouring of solidarity: 848 million euros in donations poured in from all over the world, financing the restoration of the cathedral.

Some 14 million visitors possible upon reopening

The month of December was decisive in the progress on the Notre-Dame construction site. On December 6, the cathedral found its cross, affixed to the top of its spire, the silhouette of which can be seen behind the scaffolding. The next step is that of the lead covering of the arrow, a matter which gives rise to numerous debates, but Mr. Jost recently wanted to be reassuring before the cultural affairs committee of the National Assembly which was hearing him.

He explained that “the cloud of lead following the fire, which sparked intense controversy and complaints from local residents, did not visibly cause any contamination.” He added that a new and “experimental runoff water treatment” system was deployed “in order to put in place [the] most suitable sustainable system”.

During the Paris Olympic Games in the summer of 2024, the spire and the familiar silhouette of Notre-Dame, currently surrounded by scaffolding and flanked by cranes, are expected. Finally, Mr. Jost promised an innovative fire-fighting system in the cathedral. Four and a half years after the disaster, the accidental route remains favored. When it reopens, set for December 8, 2024, Notre-Dame de Paris must be able to welcome 14 million visitors.