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Statuary of the cathedral’s central portal

1990: Restoration of the central portal vaulting.

"Certain stones have soul ... but that soul is deteriorating fast".
"Photo Alain Tricot"

These were the words that introduced the report presented by the French Minister of Culture to the gathering of personalities held in Rheims cathedral on 17 October 1990. The Minister then stated as follows:

"The determination of the Friends of the Cathedral together with the generosity of the Winegrowers and Houses of Champagne have long been the mainstay of the cathedral restoration programme.

But there is still a lot to be done ...

The list of non-negotiable "urgent actions" represents a sizable budget. As the owner of French cathedrals since 1905, the State cannot deal quickly enough with all of the work that is needed everywhere at any one time. But we cannot allow deterioration to outrun restoration to the point where things disintegrate beyond repair. It is unthinkable that we should just stand by and watch as great Gothic masterpieces disappear. The clock is ticking. Tomorrow it will be too late."

And thus was born a national association for cathedral restoration.

First among the donors were the Winegrowers and Houses of Champagne who committed to save the vaulting of the central portal — the most pressing emergency because falling stones had by that point forced the installation of temporary protection to shield passers-by!