Built in the 14th century, the Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the most famous religious buildings in the world and one of the symbols of France. However, on April 15, 2019, a fire broke out in it, possibly related in some way to the renovation work carried out there. The damage was very serious – among other things, the “forest” of oak beams holding the lead roof burned and the top of the tower collapsed. Fortunately, firefighters were able to save the load-bearing walls, stained-glass windows, and massive organs.
Rebuilding the cathedral
Immediately after the fire, President Emmanuel Macron promised that the cathedral would be rebuilt and that the cathedral would be completed within five years so that it would be accessible to believers and tourists before the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024. Macron also suggested that he was open to modernizing it and that some new bishop and tower proposals submitted to The International Architecture Competition was very recent. This sparked a wave of outrage in France and around the world. The French National Assembly adopted a law in response demanding reconstruction in relation to the historical and artistic nature of the site.
At the end of September, the work to protect the cathedral from further destruction was completed and its reconstruction will begin in the next few months. Some media outlets, including the British newspaper The Telegraph, have reached out to her plans. They show that after its completion, the exterior of the cathedral will be restored in its former form – because of this law, the authorities have no other choice – but the interior of the cathedral will radically change its character. Classical carvings, altars and cults will disappear among others. They will be replaced by murals and modern art, quotes from the Bible in different languages lying on the walls, or atmospheric lighting and sound effects.
“The Path of Discovery”
According to the media, the new look of the cathedral is aimed primarily at educating people who do not know about Catholicism. For this purpose, a “discovery path” will be created within it. It will consist of 14 chapels, each with its own theme, such as Genesis, the Fathers, the Prophets, and the Book of Exodus. There will also be chapels dedicated to Africa and Asia, although those for the rest of the continents will either be by the way or not at all. It will culminate in a chapel dedicated to protecting the environment and combating global warming.
A strong supporter of this plan is Father Gilles Drouin, the Statute of Notre Dame, and Archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, who nominated him in February. Drouin told the media that their goal was to teach the tourists who visit this cathedral the basics of Christianity without turning it into a “heavy education”. The general manager of Christian Rousselot, who is responsible for raising funds to rebuild the Notre Dame Foundation, also spoke in a similar vein. In an interview with The Telegraph, he stated that the goal was to “present the key moments in the Bible” and make them as clear as possible to “ordinary human beings, whether they are Swedes or Chinese”.
However, an anonymous source from The Telegraph, who is high on the renovation process, says the plans do not like the majority of members of the scientific committee overseeing the construction. Many people also fear that the construction of a new indoor building will lead to a shortage of money for other major works, such as renovating the trusses or the closet, which should have been carried out before the fire. Motivated by the cathedral’s fire, the French donated hundreds of millions of euros to raise funds for its reconstruction, but given the scale of the task, funding remains a huge problem.
Like Disney entered Notre Dame
The final fate of these plans may be decided on December 9, when a meeting of the French National Heritage Committee takes place. The Vatican would have nothing to say here because the French law on the separation of church and state from 1905 made all churches built before that date public property. In addition to the Archbishop of Paris, General Jean-Louis Georgelin, whom Macron entrusted with the task of overseeing the reconstruction, is to support this plan. On the other hand, opinion polls show that the majority of French are against the modernization of this cathedral, and up to 55% want it to look exactly as it was before the fire after it was reconstructed.
Renowned Parisian architect Maurice Culott commented, “It is like entering Disney’s Notre Dame, what they propose for Notre Dame will never be done in Westmest Abbey or St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It is a kind of theme park, very childish and frivolous given the sublime nature of this place.”
One of the sources close to the reconstruction told the media that the authors of the plan wanted to destroy the cathedral’s character in this way. “Can you imagine that the administration of the Vatican would allow something like this in the Sistine Chapel? It would be unimaginable. We are not dealing with an empty space ”- he told reporters – This is madness for political correctness. They want to turn Notre Dame into an experimental ritual exhibition hall that does not exist anywhere else, while it is a monument in which the slightest alteration must be made with great care. ”
Źródło: niezalezna.pl, The Telegraph, Daily Mail
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