A bouquet of flowers to celebrate the end of the reconstruction of the medieval choir framework of the Notre Dame Cathedral is pictured in Paris Jan. 12. OSV News photo/Sarah Meyssonnier, Reuters

Notre Dame roof structure completed

By  Caroline de Sury, OSV News
  • January 17, 2024

PARIS -- In a historic year for Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which the French capital and the whole world will see reopen Dec. 8, milestones will be reported on regularly, but this one made Parisians shed a tear or two: Reconstruction of the roof structure is now complete.

On Jan. 12, in the freezing cold, a traditional bouquet of flowers was placed on top of the wooden structure of the cathedral apse. The last rafter had been placed under the snow, three days earlier.

Notre Dame Cathedral was ravaged by a devastating fire in 2019 that sent its spire crumbling down, and restoration works continue.

Carpenter Julien Mulvet was in charge of the rooftop project at the cathedral. He and other carpenters and workers posed for a group picture during the ceremony, and  were visibly proud at the end of the reconstruction of the medieval choir framework. The symbolic flower gesture was warmly applauded by the large number of craftsmen.

“What moved me the most was that all the craftsmen who took part in this work had come from all over France for this moment,” said Mulvet, “including the small-scale craftspeople who passed on to us the skills that were used in the 12th century by the builders of the cathedral.”

Symbolically, it was Philippe Jost, who chairs the Rebâtir Notre Dame public institution responsible for overseeing the reconstruction, along with the cathedral’s rector-archpriest, Fr. Olivier Ribadeau Dumas, who put the last two wooden handmade dowels at the top of the structure. Their hammer blows resounded in the cold, as they fixed the last rafter of the choir, a beam 40 feet long and weighing 770 pounds.

“It was a great moment,” said Ribadeau Dumas. “A moment of resurrection of this oak framework after it had collapsed during the fire on April 15, 2019.”

Ribadeau Dumas lives at the very foot of the cathedral where he frequently comes to meet the craftsmen.

“I found these carpenters particularly wonderful,” he said. “They worked with great peace, strength and joy, aware that they are not working for an ordinary house, but for a church, to make it available for worship and visits.

“I told them that their job was that of Joseph, and of Jesus,” he added with a smile. “Their teamwork was a sight to behold. It was truly beautiful, and for me, as a priest, beauty says something about God.”

On Jan. 15, Mulvet was supervising the final details of the finishing work on the site, before leaving it. The craftsmen responsible for the lead roofing had already taken over and begun their work.

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