It was one year ago this week that the news raced around the world: the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which has stood for 860 years, was engulfed in flame. And though fortunately no lives were lost in the fire, which was either caused by a cigarette or a faulty wire, and the stained-glass windows and main structure of the building remained intact, the spire and roof collapsed. The wood roof, known as the “the forest” for its many heavy, ancient wooden beams, were destroyed, along with the lead roof, and a 350-ton mass of scaffolding that was around the structure as part of a restoration project.
It’s that scaffolding that is proving to be the problem in the rescue of the cathedral. The vaulted ceilings of stone are mostly intact, but on top of them rests a mess of melted metal. One false move and the whole thing could go tumbling through the surviving vaulted ceilings, which is making the process agonizingly slow.
Paris has been adamant about the fact that they are going to have the cathedral repaired and ready for visitors by 2024 when the Summer Olympics come to Paris, but the coronavirus and its construction-halting effects are just another obstacle in the way of the redemption of the grand old building.
There is still hope on the horizon. Last week Germany announced that it will aid in the restoration of the stained-glass windows, offering money and expertise. And on Good Friday a tiny service was held in the cathedral, livestreamed across the world.