In France, the reconstruction of Notre Dame is well underway. The world-famous cathedral received a new golden rooster. Four years ago, he fell from the roof during a major fire. France correspondent Daniel Fall explains why the golden rooster on the church tower is so important.
France and Maghreb correspondent
Daniel Fall is SRF Radio's France correspondent based in Paris since 2018. He also counts the Maghreb as part of his reporting area. He previously worked, among other things, as EU correspondent in Brussels and as foreign editor for SRF.
What is the significance of the rooster on the church tower?
In practical terms, the rooster on top of the church tower is just a lightning rod. But it also has multiple symbolic meanings: it reminds us, for example, of Peter, who predicted, when Christ was arrested, that he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed. That is, from a theological point of view, the rooster on top of the church tower is actually a call to the faithful to bear honest witness.
In the case of Notre Dame, the rooster has another meaning. It is the heraldic animal of France. It is also one of the few pieces that has not been similarly restored. The cathedral has already been rebuilt similarly. Its wings are now in the shape of a flame and are reminiscent of the fire of April 15, 2019. This means that it is a symbol of the Paris Cathedral rising like a phoenix from the ashes.
What is the current status of reconstruction?
Notre Dame is still a major construction site, but it is taking shape. The roof framing is largely finished. The Peak Tower was also rebuilt at the beginning of December. (The amazing tower you saw fall on the night of the fire, and the rooster has now taken its place again.) The roof is scheduled to be covered in January, and the scaffolding removed before the Olympics in the summer. So the cathedral should at least look like normal from the outside, even if everything inside is not yet complete.
The plan is scheduled to reopen on December 8, 2024. How realistic is that?
At least the technical management of the construction site is optimistic. President Macron and the Minister of Culture also say this deadline can be met. Even if it takes a little longer than the five years that President Macron originally talked about. This day is also a symbolic date. It is the Feast of the Conception of the Virgin Mary, and for Notre Dame it is also the Feast of the Patron Saint of the Church.
What potential obstacles still need to be overcome?
It is a large construction site that still faces many challenges. About 1,000 people work on this project, about half of whom are on the construction site and the other half are distributed among specialized companies that produce individual components. These works must be coordinated very carefully so that the schedule can be adhered to.
Also noteworthy is the newly constructed pointed tower on the roof. It must be covered with lead again like the previous tower. This involves a total of 500 tons of lead. This also brings back bad memories for the neighbors. After the fire, a cloud of fog containing lead particles remained around the cathedral for some time. Paris had to specifically develop an action plan to combat lead contamination. Now politicians are demanding that pollution levels be measured first. If the court approves this construction freeze, the December 8, 2024 deadline could be changed.
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