Ken Follett visits the Breton cathedral he helped restore


The Welsh writer Ken Follett expressed his pride and his emotion on Sunday by visiting the cathedral of Dol-de-Bretagne (Ille-et-Vilaine), of which he helped to finance the renovation works by donating the royalties of his story "Notre-Dame".

"I am very proud and very happy to help you a little for the repairs of the cathedral of Dol", said a moved Ken Follett, received by the elected officials of this city of 6.000 inhabitants who made him an honorary citizen.

“We do it for us, because it is beautiful and we love this church, but also for our children and their children,” added the British author in impeccable French. "We are doing this for the future and we hope the cathedral will continue to exist for another 800 years."

Ken Follett had offered the full copyright of his story "Notre-Dame" published after the fire of the Parisian monument on April 15, 2019, i.e. 148.000 euros, to restore the Saint-Samson cathedral in this city close to the bay of Mont Saint-Michel.

Why Dol? “Because the cathedral is in great need of money and it was founded by Saint-Samson, who was Welsh like me,” he explained.

Ken Follett had initially considered donating his royalties for the benefit of the Parisian cathedral. But faced with the influx of donations from all over the world, the Heritage Foundation had suggested that he help another cathedral: he had finally opted for Dol-de-Bretagne.

The renovation work on the cathedral, in particular the roof, will cost a total of 2,6 million euros, of which approximately one million will be borne by the municipality, explained the mayor Denis Rapinel. They should be completed by the end of 2023.

"It's expensive but it has to be done because these buildings contain our history, the history of Europe," insisted Mr. Follett during an inspection of the work on the roofs of the cathedral, which he did not had never visited before.

The writer himself nailed a slate engraved with his name on one of the roofs being renovated.

A jewel of Gothic architecture in Brittany, the Saint-Samson cathedral, listed as a historical monument since 1840, is very degraded.

The writer with more than 180 million books sold, including the "Pillars of the Earth" which tells the construction of an imaginary cathedral in the Middle Ages, attended a mass in the early morning.

He then rode up the main street of the city in a horse-drawn carriage, waving a Breton flag to the applause and "thank you Mr. Follett" from the crowd, in an atmosphere of bagpipes, bombardments and Breton dances on occasion. of the Pardon of Saint-Samson.

The author had been "shocked" by the fire in the Paris cathedral, which had inspired his story "Notre-Dame", which sold more than 113.000 copies worldwide, he reminded AFP.

"Notre-Dame was burning, I was watching it on television, it was terrible, so shocking," he recalled. “When (French) President Emmanuel Macron spoke on television he said we will rebuild” by 2024. “It brought tears to my eyes. If he said it, I thought it was possible, that the French were going to do that”.

The Editorial Board (with AFP)

Image credit: / Markus Wissmann

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Summary of news from March 21, 2023

By The Editorial Board
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