In the same way, the sum of the donations managed by the Public Establishment for the renovation does not include the cost of the interior fittings, which are the responsibility of the Diocese of Paris, the cathedral’s allocator. As of last March, according to Rousselot, the diocese was still between 6 million euros ($6.3 million) and 7 million euros ($7.4 million) short of donations to cover these expenses. The diocese has not communicated on this subject since then.
However, it announced last February that it had officially selected two candidates to design the 1,500 chairs that will furnish the monument’s nave and that the name of the winner would be known during the second half of 2023.
The design of these chairs has been a central point of contention in the heated controversy over the diocese’s overall interior redesign project, approved by France’s heritage authorities in December 2021 and which is oriented toward a more contemporary style.
The project also includes the installation of contemporary art in the side chapels, the projection of biblical messages on the walls, and a new “catechetical path” for visitors throughout the chapels, which, according to the diocese, would help them rediscover the Christian faith along the way.
“At a time when many tourists visit the monument without knowing its real spiritual meaning, the [diocese’s] goal is to remind people of the reasons why the cathedral was built in the first place, beyond the heritage treasure it represents,” Karine Dalle, the spokesperson for the diocese at the time, told the National Catholic Register at the height of the debate surrounding the draft project.
If all goes according to plan, it is envisaged that the cathedral will be open for worship on Dec. 8, 2024, on the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.
Until then, the numerous lovers of this Gothic jewel can visit the exhibition “Notre-Dame de Paris: At the Heart of the Construction Site,” which opened on March 7 and pays tribute to the know-how of the many artisans working on its reconstruction. The exhibition, located in an underground room in front of the cathedral, is free and open to the public.
A virtual show offering a complete immersion in the cathedral’s eight centuries of history has also been offered under the cathedral’s forecourt since the fall of 2022. The virtual-reality expedition titled “Eternelle Notre-Dame” is meant to be presented later throughout France, Europe, and then for the rest of the world.
Solène Tadié is the Europe Correspondent for the National Catholic Register. She is French-Swiss and grew up in Paris. After graduating from Roma III University with a degree in journalism, she began reporting on Rome and the Vatican for Aleteia. She joined L’Osservatore Romano in 2015, where she successively worked for the French section and the Cultural pages of the Italian daily newspaper. She has also collaborated with several French-speaking Catholic media organizations. Solène has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas.