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Spire of Notre Dame gets cross back as rebuilding advances

Notre-Dame de Paris, croix, flèche, reconstruction, chantier

MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

La flèche de Notre-Dame de Paris a retrouvé sa croix le 6 décembre 2023.

Agnès Pinard Legry - published on 12/08/23

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris got its cross back on Wednesday, December 6. Mounted atop the spire, it stands at 315 ft and once again watches over the capital.

With a year to go before the reopening of Notre Dame of Paris, the symbolism is beautiful. On Wednesday, December 6, the cathedral regained its cross, affixed to the top of its spire, which now stands at 315 ft (96 meters) high.

The operation took place in the afternoon shortly after 3 pm, before the eyes of Parisians and tourists alike. On Friday, December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the countdown will officially begin: In one year’s time to the day, Notre Dame will reopen its doors.

Notre-Dame de Paris, croix, flèche, reconstruction, chantier

So what could be more beautiful than to know that the cross before which Mary wept for her Son, and before which Catholics the world over bow, is now once again watching over Notre Dame and all the people in Paris? Perhaps as a tribute to the Passion planned by God or man, the cross was installed shortly after 3 pm, the hour of Christ’s death on the cross.

The spire surmounted by a crown, a rooster, and a cross

The spire “is currently being reassembled […] based on drawings by Viollet-Le-Duc. It is an extremely skilful assembly of wood, covered with a sheet of lead and surmounted, at the top, by a crown, a rooster and a cross,” explained French authorities on Wednesday. The rooster was not visible on the top of the cross on Wednesday. It “has not yet been replaced,” according to the spokesperson, who specified that it “will be blessed” according to Catholic tradition “in the coming days.” “It’s a new rooster,” as the “rooster rescued from the flames (is) destined to be exhibited” in a future museum.

The roof and spire photographed around 1860, after the installation of the new spire.
The roof and spire photographed around 1860, after the installation of the spire designed by Viollet-Le-Duc

President Emmanuel Macron, who will be visiting the Notre Dame construction site on Friday December 8, will be able to approach the spire. He is expected to pay a heartfelt tribute to General Jean-Louis Georgelin, who was in charge of the Notre Dame restoration work and died suddenly in August 2023. His name will be engraved in the wood of the spire.

Much work still to be done

While the timetable for the reopening of Notre Dame is, in principle, guaranteed, there are still many major tasks to be carried out: completing the restoration of the north belfry and re-installing the eight restored bells, completing the cleaning of the chapels… Above all, this includes reassembling the framework of the transept and nave, the famous “forest,” which has been rebuilt to match the original medieval framework and is being installed at great speed.

NOTRE-DAME-CHARPENTE-AFP-000_33NK79V.jpg
A timber truss is craned from a barge on the River Seine to Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral during its restoration (July 2023)

But “the spire is the true symbol of the cathedral’s reconstruction,” General Jean-Louis Georgelin once said. “We’re getting really close to the reopening of Notre Dame in December 2024. The French, pilgrims, and visitors from all over the world will then be able to rediscover the cathedral they love, fully restored, respecting the light color of its stone and magnified by the rediscovered splendor of its painted decorations!” Its spire already bears hope at its summit, towards which the eyes of millions of faithful are turned.

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FranceNotre Dame
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