The suspense only lasted a few days, as promised by the Strasbourg administrative court. To know whether or not the green ray would be able to reappear in the Alsatian cathedral during the next spring equinox, March 20. This Friday, the court indicated that the ray, a line of light which, when the weather is fine, passes through the foot of Judah (the son of Jacob) represented on a light green stained glass window on the south side of the religious building.

This Friday, the court was to rule on the fate of a patina affixed a year ago during work carried out by the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs (Drac). A patina which obstructs the part of the stained glass window at the origin of the ray illuminating at the end of the race the body of Christ which adorns the pulpit at 11:38 am during the equinoxes. According to the court, this ray having “not been wanted by the designers of the cathedral”, the State has “not disregarded its obligations to preserve a historic monument”. He is therefore “not obliged to restore this green ray”.

“The decision that was taken is a contempt of the public”

“It’s disgusting,” immediately confided to 20 minutes Maurice Rosart. The engineer surveyor, discoverer and fervent defender of the green ray, had seized, with the lawyer Maître Julien Laurent, the administrative court of Strasbourg. “I see that the administration is asking for proof. But proving here that Gustave Klotz (one of the architects of the cathedral) wanted the green ray, that seems difficult to me,” Maurice Rosart quips. The octogenarian continues explaining that he would have “preferred that we restore the green ray, while launching the necessary studies and research”, to see where it comes from. “The decision that was taken is a contempt of the public”, still rages the engineer.

Maurice Rosart (on the left) and Master Julien Laurent wish the return of the green ray in the cathedral of Strasbourg, March 14, 2023.
Maurice Rosart (left) and Master Julien Laurent want the return of the green ray in Strasbourg Cathedral, March 14, 2023. – G. Varela / 20 Minutes

The green ray will therefore not reappear on Monday. Exit this line of color which for six days, at 11:38 a.m., with more or less force, illuminated Christ before disappearing on the seventh (day of creation, as some pointed out). And this “stop” put by the administrative court should disappoint more than one. Many were indeed lovers of religious architecture or symbols and tourists to come and observe the famous ray which disappeared in March 2022, following the laying of this patina.

Since then, the defenders of the green ray had mobilized. The legal action brought by Me Julien Laurent, also at the initiative of a petition which has nearly 3,900 signatures today, will not have been enough. Still, Maurice Rosart does not intend to let go. He who knows a lot about the subject since 1967, the date of the beginning of his research

“I looked for it and I found it, recalls Maurice Rosart. I knew that in Chartres they have a section at the summer solstices. I said to myself that here, we were not dumber than them and that there should be the equivalent in Strasbourg, confides to 20 minutes the author of a book in three editions, A cathedral unfolds. At first I looked for the summer solstices, like in Chartres, but since I couldn’t find anything, I went to the equinoxes, and, boom boom, I found the green ray. »

“It’s a bit of a mess in front of the cathedral”

We were in 1972. And he will have to wait until 1984 (several years of checks “to be sure of his shot and not to be garlanded”) to officially announce the discovery. “In front of 1,000 people including an audience of journalists gathered for the occasion”, Maurice Rosart then evoked the green ray, 11:38 am, the pulpit, Christ. A success and a “relief, he still congratulates himself, the sun being at the rendezvous”. Since then “the general public admires him and asks questions”, assures Maurice Rosart. Everyone finds their own answer. That of the engineer being “the action of light on the pulpit and the flesh”.

Still, this famous green ray “disrupts the entrance to the cathedral when you have to pay three euros to go see the astronomical clock”. “Visitors who come for the green ray and not for the clock refuse to pay the three euros. So, during the equinox, it’s a bit of a mess in front of the cathedral”, says Maurice Rosart, who also recalls that a cover had already been placed on the green stained glass window in 1990 before the installation of a projector just in front of the light beam does not cut its trajectory in 2004.

Tuesday again, after the hearing at the administrative court, Maurice Rosart and his counsel still saw the horizon clear up for this department. That morning, the questions had mainly focused on the necessity and legality of doing work of this nature on the stained glass window. Was the patina done in a rush or while waiting for an overall restoration plan for the stained glass windows in the southern part of the cathedral? A plan that would be under study, had indicated the Drac.

If the State had affirmed that this phenomenon had nothing historical, Me Laurent and Maurice Rosart had for their part recalled the local attachment to the green ray. It “has become historic. It has become popular and contributes to the influence of the cathedral and of Strasbourg”, had argued the lawyer before deciding: “coming to remove it would contribute to devaluing the building”. “If studies are in progress to decide on the nature of the renovation that should be done, the real question that arises is then: why put in place a temporary device which would only tend to remove the green ray? It is incomprehensible, ”also wondered Me Laurent.

This Friday, Maurice Rosart indicated that he was going to appeal the decision. “It is already fitted”, dropped the historian to 20 minutes who now hopes to see the green ray back during the winter equinox.

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