Notre Dame Recreated with Original Tools and Techniques & a Place for the Crown of Thorns

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Hundreds of millions of dollars were donated to repair Notre Dame after a fire that ravaged the historic church five years ago. The crews worked on rebuilding the roof using the same techniques and non-powered hand tools without metal fasteners to honor the original builders of 860 years ago. The crown of thorns was also encased in the new golden Phoenix placed atop the recreated spire.

That’s very impressive, and the builders would be very honored were they to return.

Modern-day carpenters using medieval-era skills and rewinding time must have been an amazing experience, making them appreciate the ancient builders’ skill and tenacity.

“It’s a little mind-bending sometimes,” says one of the carpenters, Peter Henrikson. He says there are times when he’s whacking mallet on a chisel that he finds himself thinking about medieval counterparts cutting “basically the same joint 900 years ago.”

“We want to restore this cathedral as it was built in the Middle Ages,” says Jean-Louis Georgelin, the retired French Army general overseeing the reconstruction.

The spire that collapsed in 2019 has been wholly rebuilt, identical to the one that fell. On top of the original spire was a rooster weathervane. It was found in the ashes, very damaged, and is now in a museum.

In 2021, a photo showed chief architect Philippe Villeneuve cradling the damaged rooster rescued from the debris. The original bird is now safe and permanently displayed at the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine, Place du Tocadéro, NY1 reports.

A new rooster, designed to be a phoenix, was placed upon the completed spire.

On Saturday morning, a crane carefully placed a new golden rooster atop the spire of Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral.

While the rooster has long been a national emblem of France and a symbol of Christianity, this particular bird, which sports flame-like wings, is also meant to resemble a phoenix, signifying endurance in the wake of the devastating 2019 fire.

“Since [the fire], we have worked on this rooster, [the] successor, which sees the flame carried to the top of the cathedral as it was before, more than 96 meters from the ground,” said chief architect Philippe Villeneuve, who designed the new weathervane, per Thomas Adamson of the Associated Press. “It is a fire of resurrection.”

The Phoenix contains relics of dead saints and what is believed to be a piece of the Crown of Thorns. It was given to Louis IX, who brought it back in the 12th century. It was regularly displayed.

Paris is hosting the Summer Olympics next year, and President Macron initially hoped to have the cathedral reopened in time. The schedule has since slipped a bit, but it will reopen next December 8 in time for Christmas. Hundreds of people work at the site every day to meet that deadline.

About 500 people are busy at the construction site daily, including architects, engineers, masons, metal workers, carpenters, steeplejacks, and more. Hundreds of others have been involved in workshops around France, using modern technology and centuries-old techniques — like squaring oak beams with an ax — to re-create parts being transported to Paris…

The work has cost about 700 million euros, or about $755 million. Donations amounting to nearly €850 million were raised in the aftermath of the fire.

The vaults have been rebuilt or consolidated, except those at the cathedral’s crossing, which will be completed next year once the spire is in place. By next summer, workers are expected to install new roof coverings, electric cabling, and a state-of-the-art fire protection system — the old attic had no sprinklers or firewalls.

I have family who were over there at the time and were outside Notre Dame as it was up in flames.


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