On Wednesday, a single bell sounds from the remains of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris. It is the only event planned to be held a year after a massive fire almost destroyed one of the most revered monuments in the world.
Reconstruction of the medieval cathedral was stopped, and France was banned due to the fatal outbreak of the corona virus.
President Emmanuel Macron promised on Wednesday to do everything possible to ensure that the 13th-century masterpiece will return to its former glory within five years – a timeframe that many already consider optimistic and is now at risk.
"We will rebuild Notre-Dame in five years, I promised. We will do everything we can to meet this deadline. Yes, construction has stopped due to the health crisis, but it will resume as soon as possible." he said in a video message.
The wild fire that horrified millions of television viewers worldwide has not been forgotten, even though "our days, our thoughts, our lives are usurped by the outbreak of the corona virus," said Macron.
"If the restoration of Notre-Dame is important to all of us, it is because it is a symbol of our people's resilience, their ability to overcome trials and recover."
The bell called "Emmanuel" in the south tower of the cathedral is said to ring at 8:00 p.m. In this hour, the French have gotten used to gathering on their windows and balconies to applaud health workers at the front of the fight against the virus, which has killed over 15,000 people in France.
Toxic lead, garbled framework
The 13-ton bell is the oldest of the cathedral, which was installed at the behest of King Louis XIV in 1686, according to the Notre-Dame website.
His carillon has since interrupted most of the major events in France and is the only commemoration scheduled for Wednesday.
Firefighters fought through the night on April 15, 2019 to save the cathedral from the fire that devastated its roof and dramatically overturned the church tower.
Macron had promised a Herculean effort to restore the UNESCO World Heritage Site in time for the Paris Olympics in 2024.
However, even before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, work had been delayed due to decontamination efforts. More than 300 tons of lead from the roof melted in the flame and covered the area with toxic particles.
The fragile structure remains endangered, and massive wooden beams support the arches and gables.
The workers didn't even remove the tangled metal scaffold that melted in the inferno and broke out on the roof during renovations.
This must be done before a more permanent temporary roof can be installed to protect the priceless works of art from the church from rain.
Prosecutors suspect that improper electrical wiring or a badly extinguished cigarette caused the fire.
The officials still have to decide on a crucial question: do you rebuild the cathedral exactly as it was using traditional techniques and materials, or do you incorporate a modern touch?
Macron said he advocated a "contemporary" grade for the tower.
However, the project's chief architect, Philippe Villeneuve, has refused to accept a glass tower, roof garden, or other modernist proposals, and opinion polls suggest that most French people agree with him.
Over 340,000 companies and individuals around the world have committed or committed more than 900 million euros (nearly $ 1 billion) to the restoration of the cathedral.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)