VILLEDIEU-LES-POELES, France — Nine enormous bronze bells have made their way on flatbed trucks from a Normandy foundry to what is hoped will be their home for centuries to come, Notre Dame Cathedral, helping the medieval edifice to rediscover its historical harmony.
The bells, named after saints and prominent Catholic figures, will be on display at the Paris cathedral from Saturday through Feb. 25. Then, they will be hoisted to its iconic twin towers, where they will replace older bells that became discordant.
The new bells are scheduled to ring for the first time March 23, in time for Palm Sunday and Easter week.
Eight of the nine new bells were cast in a foundry in the Normandy town of Villedieu-les-Poeles. The ninth — a “bourdon,” or Great Bell, named Marie — was cast in the Netherlands and then sent to Normandy to join the others.
The president of the foundry rang the bells, to the cheers of onlookers, before the nine new bells were sent on a convoy of trucks Thursday from Villedieu-les-Poeles to Paris.
They are joining the cathedral’s oldest surviving bell, a Great Bell named Emmanuel, to restore the 10-bell harmony originally conceived for Notre Dame’s bell towers.
The old bells, which dated from different periods throughout Notre Dame’s history, were out of tune with each other and with Emmanuel, which has hung in the cathedral since the 17th century, according to cathedral officials.
So the diocese decided to have new ones cast as part of celebrations marking 850 years since the beginning of the cathedral’s construction in 1163. It took nearly 90 years to build.
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.
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