The bells usually only sound during special religious occasions. They rang on Wednesday, a year after the great cathedral was nearly destroyed in a fire.
In unison with the French people who have gotten into the habit of applauding health care workers from their windows at 8 p.m. every night, the great bell of Notre-Dame de Paris rang for just over five minutes this Wednesday, April 15.
A year ago, at the same time, the building was fighting the flames of the catastrophic fire that destroyed the cathedral’s roof and spire.
The event, broadcast live on live television, took place in the presence of Bishop Patrick Chauvet, rector of the cathedral, who stood at the end of the forecourt of the cathedral.
Miraculously saved a year ago
The large bell was rung by two people from inside the belfry, the electricity having been cut for the duration of the reconstruction work. The oldest bell in the cathedral was made in 1686 during the reign of Louis XIV, and weighs around 13 tons. It is nicknamed “Emmanuel,” a name which designates Christ and means “God with us.”
A year ago, when the fire ravaged the cathedral, the South Tower where the bell resides threatened to collapse in the night. Miraculously saved by the action of the Paris firefighters, it generally rings for great religious solemnities, such as Christmas, or for special occasions, such as the fall of the Berlin Wall. The last time it was heard across the city of Paris was during the funeral of President Jacques Chirac, in September 2019.