Craftsman Uses Significant Wood to Build Custom Wheelchair for The Pope

Tags: Currents Pope Francis

In his workshop in the southwest of France, Paul de Livron is designing a wheelchair he will give to Pope Francis. Paul has been in one himself for almost 10 years after a hiking accident in Marseille. In May this year, following a General Audience, he showed the Pope the wheelchair prototype. Paul stated that this new model will be tailored specifically to Pope Francis’ needs.

It has large armrests for support when standing up. The backrest is made so that Pope Francis can sit for hours at a time. The handles at the back were deliberately made higher, so that Sandro Mariotti, the Pope’s assistant, does not have to bend over when pushing the chair.

Furthermore, the materials the wheelchair is made from are very special.

“Pope Francis’ wheelchair is made primarily of plywood from two countries: from Russia and Ukraine,” de Livron said. “I deliberately used a combination of planks from these two countries for the Pope’s wheelchair because he has regularly offered to be a mediator between them.”

The two armrests are made from pieces of the wood from the ceiling of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in France, which caught on fire in 2019.

“It’s from the southern part of the frame of Notre-Dame in Paris,” de Livron said. “The early thirteenth-century medieval frame that caught fire in 2019. I’m lucky enough to have been entrusted with it. Two beams that survived the fire were completely charred, but I managed to carve the armrests out of them. What’s interesting is that these are trees that grew around the year 1200, at the same time as St. Francis of Assisi–Pope Francis’ patron saint.”

The project costs €15,000 ($16,210.50 USD) and that has been raised by crowdfunding. The names of the donors will be given to the Pope together with the wheelchair during his papal trip to Marseille in September.