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The Rising of Notre-Dame de Paris

The Rising of Notre-Dame de Paris

Restoring the Paris Cathedral 

By Brooklin Painter 

The once magnificent French Gothic medieval cathedral was a historical monument located at Île de la Cité in Paris, France. After the fire that burnt down the church, of unknown cause, many became devastated by its loss. The cathedral is over 800 years old and a landmark for many key events in history such as WWI, WWII,  and the coronation of Henry VI of England in 1431. [1] 

Paris lost the monument on April 15, 2019. Most of the roof burned down and 70% of the art was lost, as well as the 800-ton spire along with the stone vaults. Luckily, no one was hurt and the famous rose stained-glass windows were unharmed owing to firefighters diligently working to keep them from burning. Seeing that most of the building survived, restoration has now been on its way since June 18, 2020, and plans to be completely rebuilt by April 2024. [2] 

Philippe Villeneuve, the chief architect of France’s historical monuments, has restoration plans to rebuild the cathedral to its original French Gothic structure after the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. [3] Not long after Notre-Dame was sent into flames, France’s Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, announced an international architectural competition to decide which firm would get to rebuild the spire on top of the building. [4] 

The Paris firm Vincent Callebaut Architectures is proposing a new project for the cathedral titled, “‘Palingenesis,’ a Greek concept of rebirth or recreation.” The new roof will be made of glass, oak and carbon fiber that connects to the slanting spire. [5] 

One of the famous rose stained glass windows inside of Notre-Dame that was saved from burning. Photo by WikiImages, taken on 12/5/2012. Source:

The architectural firm has proposed to rebuild Notre-Dame as an eco-friendly design. They wish to make the spire out of solar-powered glass so that the cathedral will be soaked in natural sunlight. Inside the spire, there will be a vegetable and fruit farm for the homeless Parisians. The food will be donated yearly to those in need. According to Emily Dixon, writer for CNN, “The firm said in a press release, ‘To that end, a farmers’ market would be held every week on the forecourt of Notre-Dame.’” [6] 

Dixon reiterated, “If the Vincent Callebaut design is selected, the firm said, the reborn Notre Dame will define ‘the new face of the Church in the 21st century,’ presenting ‘a fairer symbiotic relationship between humans and nature.’” [7] 

The original spire was made of wood and had 250 tons of lead covering. As a result, when the cathedral caught on fire, the spire was engulfed in flames and began pouring molten lead that fortunately, did not completely destroy the walls or art inside the building. Though, some of the stone walls were cracked from the 1,400°F molten lead that even turned parts of the stone to ash. [8] 

A look at the famous spire atop the cathedral, designed by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in 1844. Photo by Vlada Karpovich, taken on 3/13/2018. Source:

The trusses of the roof were reconstructed in Sept. 2020 to the original framework of the roof’s medieval design. The nonprofit organization Carpenters Without Borders built the trusses from rare oakwood that was used to create them before. All of the wood was contributed from various donors through the National Forests Office. [9] 

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On a lighter note, the Holy Crown of Thorns, the Tunic of St. Louis, the twelve copper apostles, and the Chapel of St. Ferdinand were all spared from the fire. Some irreplaceable relics were still lost, but at least 30% of it was saved. 

For the first time since 2019, a choir was able to perform in the cathedral for Christmas in 2020. For precaution, they all wore hard hats to stay safe from burned scaffolding. Albeit, Notre Dame is still not open to the public, but it was still a cheery moment that will put hope in Parisian hearts for the future of Notre-Dame. [10] 

Andy Corbley, a writer from Good News Network, said, “The night of the blaze, President Emmanuel Macron called Notre-Dame ‘our history, our literature, our imagination,’ and vowed to rebuild it before the 2024 Olympics, a goal which galvanized progress.” [11] When the restoration project is over, Notre-Dame will begin to be a magnificent monument of history once again. 


  1. Paris, P. (2018). Notre Dame cathedral history. Notre Dame Cathedral Paris.  
  1. Latest reconstruction progress. (2021). Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris.  
  1. Ibid
  1. Dixon, E. (2019, May 10). Architect unveils striking proposal for “green” Notre Dame. CNN.  
  1. Ibid
  1. Ibid
  1. Ibid
  1. Corbley, A. (2022, January 31). Notre Dame cathedral rises from the ashes: look at all they’ve rebuilt since the 2019 blaze. Good News Network.  
  1. Ibid
  1. Notre Dame Choir sings inside the Cathedral for first time since 2019 fire. (2021, January 14). Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris.  
  1. Corbley, A. (2022, January 31). Notre Dame cathedral rises from the ashes: look at all they’ve rebuilt since the 2019 blaze. Good News Network.
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