The fund to rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral has reached the one billion euro mark just two days after the fire. Organisers of a restoration appeal said the incredible figure was growing all the time. Stephane Bern, the TV personality who helped launch the appeal by saying Notre Dame was ‘a close friend who almost disappeared’ said this morning: "The billion-euro mark of donations was reached during the day."
French multinational companies are among those who have pledged money to restore the medieval cathedral. L’Oreal promised €200 million (£172.7million) yesterday, while the LVMH luxury goods group run by Bernard Arnault, the richest man in France, has pledged the same. Multi-billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault and oil company Total have also pledged €100 million (£87million) each.
Such vast amounts of money mean it is more likely President Emmanuel Macron’s claim that the cathedral will be restored to its former glory ‘within five years’ will happen. If the goal is achieved, it would see the treasured landmark and important Catholic site restored in time for Paris to host the 2024 Olympics. "We will rebuild Notre Dame even more beautifully and I want it to be completed in five years, we can do it," Mr Macron said in a television address. "It is up to us to change this disaster into an opportunity to come together, having deeply reflected on what we have been and what we have to be and become better than we are. It is up to us to find the thread of our national project."
The iconic rooster weathervane that topped the spire of Notre Dame before it was destroyed by fire has been found in the rubble. In what is being described as ‘an absolute miracle’, France’s Ministry of Culture confirmed that ‘the rooster has been saved’. "It’s dented but can be restored," a spokesman said. "The fear was that it had been burnt and melted in the fire."
The rooster contains religious relics including one of the 70 thorns of the Holy Crown of Jesus Christ and remnants linked to Saint Denis, the Christian martyr and former bishop of Paris, and Saint Genevieve, the patron saint of the French capital. According to cathedral guides, the rooster had acted as ‘spiritual lightening rod’ to protect the Notre Dame faithful.
Shocked crowds watched the rooster fall to the ground on Monday evening as a fire engulfed the cathedral and destroyed its wooden and lead spire.