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18.04.2019 Europe

Bells Toll for Notre Dame as Architects Ponder New Spire

RFI
World REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
APR 18, 2019 EUROPE

Cathedral bells rang out across France on Wednesday evening, at the exact time that Monday's devastating blaze broke out in the capital's Notre-Dame cathedral, while architects have been invited to submit designs for the recontsruction.

"Our beloved cathedral is on her knees" but she "will live again", she "will rise again", the Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit said on Wednesday during a mass at the church of Saint-Sulpice attended by first lady Brigitte Macron.

Investigators, meanwhile, were given their first access to the top of the cathedral to begin their probe into the cause of the blaze.

'Huge challenge'

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said an international contest would decide whether the monument should have a new spire at all and, if so, whether it should be identical to the fallen 19th-century model or be a wholly new design.

Philippe explained that having no new spire at all was an option, noting that Notre-Dame had been without a steeple before.

"The international contest will settle the question of whether we should build a new spire, whether we should rebuild the spire that was designed and built by (Eugene) Viollet-Le-Duc, in identical fashion, or whether we should... endow Notre-Dame cathedral with a new spire adapted to the techniques and the challenges of our era."

Philippe described the task of rebuilding it as "a huge challenge and historic responsibility", a day after Macron said the entire restoration should be completed in just five years.

The French president vowed to rebuild the iconic monument, the real star of Victor Hugo's "Hunchback of Notre Dame" by 2024 when France hosts the summer Olympics.

The bells of Marseille's Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica were among those rung at 6:50 pm on Wednesday in support of Notre-Dame.

Earlier the Conference of French Bishops said on Twitter that all cathedral bells nationwide would ring in "solidarity with the diocese of Paris".

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