Paris crowds hail new bells for Notre Dame
AFPPARIS -- Driven through the streets of Paris with a police motorcycle escort, nine new bells arrived at the Notre Dame Cathedral on Thursday to be installed for the landmark's 850th anniversary.
February 2, 2013, 12:05 am TWN
Hundreds lined the streets of the French capital to watch the bells be carried on two trucks to the iconic church, where they were greeted by gathered crowds to the sounds of its old bells ringing.
Four of the old bells, in place since 1856, had deteriorated because of the low-quality metals used, rendering them out of key with the main tenor bell, Emmanuel, considered one of the finest examples in Europe.
The nine new bells will be installed overnight Friday and on display for a month from Saturday, before they will be rung for the first time on March 23 to mark the beginning of the Holy Week before Easter.
Eight of the bells were made in a foundry in Normandy, but the largest Marie, weighing 6 tons, was made in Asten in the southeastern Netherlands.
One of the new bells was named Jean-Marie, after Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, a Jewish-born convert to Catholicism whose mother was killed at the Auschwitz death camp and who later worked to reconcile Catholics and Jews. Lustiger was archbishop of Paris from 1981 to 2005; Jean-Marie was the name he adopted when he converted to Catholicism.
The Gothic cathedral on an islet on the River Seine is one of the most visited sites in Paris, attracting 13.6 million visitors in 2011.
The arrival of the bells “is historic precisely because since the 18th century, we haven't experienced such an event,” the cathedral's rector, Patrick Jacquin, told Associated Press Television News.
“During the French Revolution, they (the bells) were all brought down and broken except the great bell, Emmanuel, which is here and four other bells that were recast in the middle of the 19th century ... This will complete in a definitive manner the entire set of 10 bells as conceived ... in the Middle Ages.”
The 2-million-euro (US$2.7 million) bell-casting project was funded by donations, cathedral officials say.
“Historically the idea of this project was to recreate the old bells of Notre Dame in terms of power, in terms of tune, which means that there will be again 10 bells ringing into the cathedral as it used to be in the Middle Ages and up until the French Revolution,” said Paul Bergamo, president of the Cornille-Havard Foundry in Villedieu-les-Poeles.