Lausanne Notre Dame Cathedral Night Watchman Renato Häusler is reviving a tradition from the Middle Ages, by shouting out from the top of the Cathedral’s 153 steps on the hour, from 10pm to 2am, to the four points of the horizon and then ringing the Clemence bell.
It is a tradition which dates back to 1405 – where a watchman would keep vigil and ring the bell if there were something amiss such as a fire. It has now taken on a modern poignancy with the outbreak of Covid-19.
Häusler, who has been night watchman since 2002, is now daily climbing the stairs of the cathedral that attracts 400,000 visitors a year in order to bring comfort to the citizens of Lausanne on the shores of Lake Geneva.
The watchman believes he is helping his fellow citizens keep focused during the crisis.
Olivier Mathieu, Congress and Meetings Manager, Lausanne Tourism and Convention Bureau, asked to comment on the tradition’s revival by CMW, said: “Even though the situation around Covid-19 is a little bit less tense in Switzerland than in other countries around the world, we are still very much hit by it. In these times of despair, the population of Lausanne finds relief in the watchman of Lausanne’s cathedral, whose purpose is to look over and care for Lausanne’s inhabitants. Almost as if he was keeping you safe like a close relative would. The watchman has been a symbol of comfort to the people of Lausanne for more than six centuries and may he continue to do so for many more.”