Magazine article The Christian Century

New Bells to Ring out at Notre Dame Cathedral

Magazine article The Christian Century

New Bells to Ring out at Notre Dame Cathedral

Article excerpt

For generations, France's best-known cathedral has been ringing in masses and Christian holidays with what some people unkindly called the most discordant bells in Europe.

Now, the ear-deafening clangs from Notre Dame Cathedral are being replaced by a newly minted set of bells that will peal out to mark the 850th anniversary of the celebrated Paris landmark.

Weighing in at a massive 23 tons, the nine new bells harken back to Notre Dame's original chimes, which were destroyed during the French Revolution.

"The idea of this project was to recreate a set of bells that were as great as the ones existing before the revolution," said Paul Bergamo, head of the Cornille Havard bell foundry in Normandy, which cast eight of the smaller bells in the new set. "Not to re-create an old-style set, but a 21st-century set of bells," he said.

The largest of the new bells, the "great bell" Marie, was cast in the Netherlands.

Only one of Notre Dame's original ten bells has survived. First installed in 1686, 13-ton Emmanuel is the largest of the gargantuan chimes. It has rung out for coronations and to mark the endings of the two world wars.

Emmanel's four later counterparts from the 19th century have been mocked as having rendered deaf Quasimodo, Victor Hugo's famous hunchback of Notre Dame. …

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