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'Church of wood' to stand in front of Notre Dame

An 'ephemeral cathedral' could stand outside fire-ravaged monument, after Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo backed plans put forward by priest

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has backed suggestions for an 'ephemeral cathedral' made of wood in front of Notre Dame Cathedral while it is closed for restoration following Monday's devastating blaze.

The suggestion was made by priest Monseigneur Patrick Chauvet, who told news channel CNews: “We mustn’t say ‘the cathedral is closed for five years’ and that’s it.”

To give the faithful somewhere to congregate, he suggested: “Can we not build an ephemeral cathedral on the esplanade [in front of Notre Dame]?”

He added that Ms Hidalgo had already agreed that a wooden structure could be built on the esplanade in front of the 856-year-old monument.

Read more: Notre-Dame: 856 years of French history

Msgnr Chauvet said the wooden “cathedral” could be erected soon after the esplanade is reopened following urgent work to secure the building, allowing services to continue and offering a place for tourists to congregate.

On Tuesday, President Emmanuel Macron said wanted Notre Dame rebuilt in five years. Already more than €1billion has been raised towards its restoration.

Read more: Will insurance pay up for Notre-Dame fire?

Mr Macron will welcome fire crews to a special event on Thursday in their honour to thank them for their efforts to save the building. Paris city hall will also hold a ceremony for the 400 firefighters who battled for nine hour to save the 12th-century cathedral.

Among those being honoured is the Paris fire brigade chaplain Jean-Marc Fournier, who helped salvage the crown of thorns believed to have been worn by Jesus Christ.

Investigators are working in the belief the fire was accidental, and are questioning cathedral staff and workers carrying out renovations.

Read more: Alarms on spire scaffolding did not go off

Read more: Notre Dame - artists pay homage

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