Restoration will let Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral retain its beauty: priest

By Dinh Phu, Thanh Nien News

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The present-day Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral. Photo: Diep Duc Minh The present-day Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral. Photo: Diep Duc Minh


A project to restore the 135-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral will be conducted carefully to "keep the original beauty" of the cathedral, said a representative of the Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese.
Priest Ho Van Xuan, who acts as chief of the project’s management board, said Sunday the renovation will start in September. It will have three phases to first restore the roof, then interior part and finally the two bell towers.
The walls of the cathedral, which have been defaced by vandals, will also be repainted. 
According to Xuan, the cathedral was not damaged by the war, but some parts of it were degrading due to the weather.
The management board recently hired the Saigon Construction Quality Control JSC to assess the condition and decided that the top priority is to fix the roof leaks.
There are around 50,000 tiles on the roof of the cathedral. The most difficult thing is to buy the Marseilles tiles that were originally used, according to Xuan.
Xuan said he would go to France in July to buy the tiles for the project.
Other materials, such as colored glass, will also be imported from France. 
The Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese said it has yet to calculate the total cost, adding it will fund the project itself.
Although the renovation is scheduled to last in several years, the archdiocese said the church will still hold weekend masses for parishioners during that time.
The Saigon Notre Dame was built by French colonists between 1863 and 1880. It has two bell towers, with a height of 58 meters (190 feet).

The cathedral in 1880. File photo

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