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Macron praises work on Notre Dame rebuilding site, two years on from devastating fire

Conrad Duncan
·2-min read
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

France’s president Emmanuel Macron has hailed the “huge job” that has been accomplished so far in rebuilding the Notre Dame, two years on from the fire that tore through the famous cathedral.

Mr Macron visited the building site on Thursday to view the progress on the rebuilding project and argued that the country’s heritage had not been forgotten despite delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re seeing here how, in two years, a huge job has been accomplished,” Mr Macron said, flanked by ministers, architects and the retired French army general who is overseeing the restoration.

“We’re all impressed with what we see, with the work that has been achieved in two years. Bravo,” he told workers at the site.

“We’ve done a lot, and we’ve avoided the worst.”

The president added that it was clear that more work remained to be done on the project, as he recalled the “emotion” throughout France on the day of the shocking fire in April 2019.

He also offered a "huge thank you" and a message of determination to all the workers mobilised for the restoration project.

Mr Macron had promised that the cathedral would be rebuilt by 2024, but officials have acknowledged work will not be fully completed by then.

Factors such as the Covid-19 pandemic have contributed to the slower than expected pace of the reconstruction, along with other complications, such as the vast amounts of toxic lead distributed onto Notre Dame following the blaze.

Officials warned this month that the cathedral and its esplanade could remain under construction for another 15 or 20 years, but they have pledged to make sure that it will be open for prayer at least by the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

“The objective... is to return Notre Dame to worshippers and to visits in 2024. That means that in 2024, Mass will be able to be organised in the cathedral,” Jeremie Patrier-Leitus, a spokesperson for the restoration, said.

Since 2019, religious ceremonies have taken place at Notre Dame’s temporary liturgical base at the nearby church of Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois.

Additional reporting by AP

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