Almost three years after the terrible fire which partially destroyed Notre-Dame de Paris, Monsignor Patrick Chauvet, dean of the cathedral, looks back on the path traveled since, in a book entitled “In the heart of Notre-Dame”, published this Thursday . , March 10 at Éditions Plon.
An intimate story in which the one who has never left Notre Dame de Paris, whether after a fire or during a pandemic, evokes the relationship he has with the building, addressing topics such as friendship , silence and of course faith.
He speaks of a “rebirth”, that of the cathedral but also of his own: the high priest was usually used to addressing the crowd which, for months, was not confined to silence but to celebration. of his offices in front of empty pews.
“What a long road, what adventures, what patience”, warns Monsignor Patrick Chauvet, who intends to take up the challenge “to reopen all this fundamental anchor point, this central point from which symbolically emanate the influence, the influence and the hopes from France. ” .
A path strewn with pitfalls, while originally, the reconstruction of Notre-Dame Cathedral was unblocked by the architectural revolution. « Renovation projects […] Sometimes the extravagance came to my office, ”recalls the dean of the cathedral in his book. “And why are there no spas in churches and picnics for rollerbladers,” he jokes.
“I entrusted all these projects to a historic monument engineer who was choking and tearing his hair out,” he said. Finally, it was the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, who put an end to the controversy, by taking an official decision in July 2020 to rebuild Notre-Dame de Paris identically, as the Scientific Council said. .
Indeed, Bishop Patrick Chauvet lists the major projects already launched as part of the restoration of Notre-Dame de Paris, foremost among which is the Return of Grand-Mai, “this unique collection of works of French painting from the 17th century . […] which must find a place in the great nave”, but also the restoration of the small chapels in ambulatory which you will find, according to the rector of the cathedral, “also a chandelier”.
The same goes for the stained glass windows, also called grisailles, which do not undergo any fire and which “once cleaned, will let this light pass through without perfume”, assures the caretaker. Finally, “the completely destroyed furniture will no doubt be reworked to create a more visible cathedral for the archbishop”, he warns.
According to him, the vaults will be rebuilt symmetrically, just like the tower. The statues at the base of the tower, weighed eight days before the fire, have been restored and are waiting impatiently to be found, in particular the one representing Viollet-le-Duc in person.
“To spice up Notre-Dame”
Monsignor Patrick Chauvet affirms that if the reception of the cathedral is also to be reviewed, so that the memorial can better accommodate 12 million visitors per year and avoid long queues, it is indisputable to make a museum of it. The main thing is to make Notre Dame splendid, if only out of respect [les] Lots of donors.
“What a long way to go”, he still congratulated himself. And to conclude: “We find our cathedral as we love it, with this youth and this beauty that will survive the centuries.