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Scaffolding rises over Notre Dame for reconstruction of spire

Notre Dame Spire scaffolding

CBS Evening News | Fair Use via YouTube

J-P Mauro - published on 12/07/23

The effort to reconstruct Notre Dame's iconic spire to the exact specifications of architect Viollet-Le-Duc’s original is underway in Paris.

The Paresian skyline is one step closer to returning to its pre-2019 glory as the restoration effort is preparing to restore the iconic spire. A massive tower of scaffolding has been installed above Notre Dame Cathedral and it will remain up for the majority of 2024, while workers reconstruct the 96-meter (315-ft) spire to the exact specifications of architect Viollet-Le-Duc’s original.

In June, Aleteia reported on the restoration of 16 11-foot sculptures of the Apostles and Evangelists that stood on wooden steps at the base of the spire. Now, the statues are close to being replaced in their proper positions as the cross-shaped base of the spire has reportedly been completed.According to the LA Times, this support weighed in at 80 tons and was installed by cranes over the 180-foot roof.

In a March 2023 video report by TODAY, featured above, NBC’s Molly Hunter spoke with members from the team of craftsmen who have been tirelessly reconstructing the spire’s pieces using the same tools and methods used in the 19th century. One carpenter named Paul explained that the base of the spire alone is 65 feet wide by 65 feet long and rises 20 feet high. He noted that watching the spire pieces fit together was very satisfying: 

“[It’s] a type of job we won’t be able to do again in our professional lives. So we’re proud to be here.”

French Army General Jean-Louis Georgelin, who led the restoration effort until he tragically died in a hiking accident in August 2023, spoke confidently in the March report that the spire would be completed by Christmas 2024. He noted several times that the work is on schedule and now a new report from CBS Evening News shows the fruits of the labors of French craftsmen. 

CBS’ Elaine Cobbe reported that the oaken frame of the spire is currently being placed into position, creating the spire’s outline, a familiar sight to the skyline of Paris. The framework will be covered by a sheath of metal, before it is adorned with more ornamentation. The scaffolding cages around the spire will remain standing until the spire is completed. 

One architect who is working to recreate the spire’s decorative finishings commented: 

“It’s a very complex structure and never today are we rebuilding such structures. What is amazing is that we’re really trying to be very specific in the way we rebuild it.”

According to France 24, once the spire is complete, the restoration effort will be ready to finish the interior. The frames of the nave and choir, destroyed by the 2019 fire, still need to be reconstructed. The interior will also need to be cleaned – not from the fire, but due to the invasive nature of the restoration work – before new pews, an altar, and other furniture can be placed.

CatholicismFranceNotre Dame
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