Cloches de Notre Dame - Bells of Notre Dame
Not many things, especially sounds, are constant across several hundred years. Even in the middle of the night there are enough cars, ambulances, transport trucks and the occasional noctilien bus on the roads to keep Paris buzzing like any other metropolitan city. Considering that Notre Dame was completed in the year 1345, when the bells were rung for the first time, there were no motorized vehicles, no boat motors on the Seine, no air conditioners humming and no radios blasting. Although there were horses pulling buggies across cobbled streets, it must have sounded almost silent in comparison to the cacophonous riot of sounds in Paris today. When the bells begin to ring at Notre Dame, I can almost imagine how loud they must have sounded when the building was new and they were rung for the first time.
If you think about our own Liberty Bell, you will understand the desire of the French historic monument commission to protect such an old and historic bell as Emmanuel from being damaged and to make sure that it is preserved for future generations. They have cast a second bell of the same size and tone to be hung in the same tower with Emmanuel. It will be rung daily with the other bells so that Emmanuel can be reserved and rung only on days of great national and religious significance. The new bell is named Marie in honour of the virgin Mary and as a nod to the first grand bell that was hung in Notre Dame in the late 1300s. Although there are records of bells being rung from Notre Dame's towers even before the cathedral was completed, the first bell of such a large size as to be called a great bell was Marie. It seems fitting that a new Marie will be in the tower to protect Emmanuel for the ages.
Below are photos of some of the bells which have been on display inside the cathedral since December for parishioners, donors and tourists to enjoy until they are installed in the towers. They will be rung for the first time to celebrate Palm Sunday, 23 March 2013. It is important to remember that Notre Dame is not just a monument. It is a very active Catholic church. It is nothing less than amazing that they are able to do the massive amount of restoration, renovation and repair necessary to maintain such an old church which is still being used as a local church, the seat of the Archbishop of Paris, and host to over 14 million tourists per year. Yes, I said fourteen million. There is so much to write about the history of the cathedral and the events which took place within its walls, but this week I chose to focus on the bells.
Enjoy the photo's and be sure to click the final photo which is a link to hear a recording of what the bells would have sounded like a few centuries ago, and how they should sound when they ring again on Palm Sunday. If you want to know more, you can visit the official site of the cathedral. notredamedeparis.fr Till next time, Mimi