Guillaume Dominguez, edited by Philippe Folgado // Photo credit: Guillaume Dominguez 06:19, September 21, 2023

Pope Francis arrives this Thursday in Marseille, a visit during which he will receive a special wheelchair. Made of light wood, it is unique and highly symbolic. In addition, it was made by a French and paraplegic engineer. A gift that will accompany the Holy Father throughout his visit to the Phocaean city.

"It looks like a throne, a throne that would have wheels." Sandpaper in hand, Paul de Livron, 31, an engineer by training and paraplegic, finished sanding the seat of the imposing light wood armchair that will be given this Thursday to Pope Francis for his visit to Marseille. This "throne" is one meter 20 high, it has wide armrests. In addition to the thin layers of wood superimposed on its frame, the materials used and the symbols engraved on it have great symbolic significance.

"Break the image of grandfather at the end of the journey"

As for the materials used to make this chair, the seat is made of birch from Russia and Ukraine, a nod to the war that continues to rage in Eastern Europe. The wide armrests are made from pieces of oak frame, survivors of the fire of Notre-Dame de Paris in 2019. As for the symbols: "You have the cross in the file which is a graphic representation of the pope before he became a priest, when he was a chemist."

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Paul de Livron wanted this wheelchair to be different from the one the pope has used since his first appearance a year and a half ago: "I saw pictures and I thought: it's incredible, it looks like any little old man in a retirement home." Paul de Livron started from the idea that yes, it is undeniable, the Holy Father is an elderly person. But he wanted to break this image of "grandfather at the end of the journey", and give back to Francis everything that makes him the pope of all Catholics.