By Chris King •
Updated: 19 Aug 2023 • 20:43
Image of General Jean-Louis Georgelin with President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008.
Credit: Beyrouth/Creative Commons Attribution 2.0
THE former military strategist placed in charge of reconstructing the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris has been found dead in the Pyrenees.
General Jean-Louis Georgelin, the former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces was chosen by French President Emmanuel Macron to orchestrate the reconstruction of Notre Dame. He was reportedly hiking in the mountain range when he died at the age of 74.
‘The PGHM intervened on the slopes of Mont-Valier and discovered the body of a man who has been formally identified as General Georgelin’, said a representative of the Foix public prosecutor’s office this Saturday, August 19. They added that the possibility of an accident was being investigated.
The PGHM (high mountain gendarmerie platoon) was alerted by the guardian of the Estagnous refuge located some 2,246 metres below Mont-Valier.
According to the first elements of the investigation from the prosecutor’s office, they informed the PGHM that a hiker had not returned. The general had been hiking alone they added, as reported by lepoint.fr.
In the wake of the devastating fire that ravaged this world-famous monument in April 2019, the senior officer was chosen as the person to oversee the extremely complex reconstruction task.
Emmanuel Macron needed a man who could decide in the many arbitrations between very diverse professions and interests, and set a five-year goal for the restoration.
Rima Abdul Malak, the Minister of Culture, commented: ‘For four years, he had been devoted to his ultimate combat mission – the reconstruction of Notre-Dame’.
With his square shoulders, rough approach, big laugh, and powerful voice, this man with a strong attachment to his religious heritage cultivated a direct relationship with his site workers, like an officer with his soldiers.
In November 2019, Georglin famously asked Philippe Villeneuve – the chief architect of historical monuments – to ‘shut up’, after declaring himself in favour of the identical reconstruction of the cathedral’s spire.
As a good soldier, the general defined himself as chief of operations at the head of a ‘task force’ for Notre-Dame and proclaimed his total obedience to the State.
‘I’m keeping my mouth shut, it’s not me who’s going to decide which arrow will be selected, which doesn’t prevent me from playing in my place the role that I believe should be mine. In my place, but it’s not is not the public place’, he previously said.
This former student of Saint-Cyr, chief of the private staff of Jacques Chirac in 2002, had been promoted to General of the Army in 2003.
He was subsequently promoted to Chief of Staff of the French Armed Forces (Cema) from 2006 to 2010. During this time he supervised operations in Côte d’Ivoire, Afghanistan, the Balkans, and Lebanon.
Originally from Aspet in the Haute-Garonne region, this five-star general, born on August 30, 1948, was cultured, not very worldly, sober, and his Catholic faith was as anchored as it was discreet.
By choosing a practicing Catholic to orchestrate the reconstruction of Notre-Dame, Emmanuel Macron made a rather political and skilful decision, appreciated by the right, the diocese of Paris, and the faithful.
‘France and the Church are today lost one of their most devoted servants’, lamented Laurent Ulrich, Archbishop of Paris, in a press release.
He indicated that the mass of the church of Saint-Germain-l’ Auxerrois in Paris on Sunday would be celebrated in memory of General Georgelin.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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