Notre-Dame: a catechetical and aesthetic journey will welcome the faithful and visitors

An airy central axis that opens up a wide perspective, a porous cohabitation between visitors and the faithful, a catechetical and aesthetic journey that lifts the soul: the liturgical development project of Notre-Dame, that its designer, Father Gilles Drouin , director of the Higher Institute of Liturgy of the Catholic Institute of Paris (ICP), presented to The cross, responds to great pastoral intuitions.

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We open the doors to you! First step, access to the cathedral. The visitor will enter by the central door, and no longer by the side doors, so as to discover the axis of the nave in its perspective. The gaze penetrates from the outside to the tabernacle, passing through the altar and the large golden cross by Marc Couturier (1994) which resisted the fire. A monumental baptistery will be taken out of a side chapel and placed at the entrance to the cathedral.

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The sanctuary and the choir redesigned in 2004 by the architect Jean-Marie Duthilleul, at the request of Cardinal Lustiger, will be restored. In the eyes of the former Archbishop of Paris, Mgr Michel Aupetit, the liturgical change had to be continued. For Father Drouin and in accordance with Vatican II, the assembly of the faithful, in the nave, is an inseparable part of the liturgical space. We must, in fact, refuse to “Treat the choir like a theater stage”. Soft lighting from benches “carriers of light” will make the assembly visible, even to the eyes of tourists who can stroll nearby. A device that will integrate the faithful more into the celebration and wants to avoid transforming the cathedral into ” theater “.

Better access for the 12 million tourists

If the space has been designed to meet the needs of the liturgy, it has also been designed for better access to the cathedral for the approximately 12 million tourists.Contrary to the last decades and in accordance with the habits of the Middle Ages, visitors will take the north aisle, ending up on the south aisle, thus going from darkness to light.

A catechetical course will be offered throughout the restored chapels. The north wing will take up “the promise of God” in the north aisle with the evocation of the Old Testament – Creation, Abraham, Moses, the prophets, the Psalms and the Song of Songs. The stroll around the choir itself will remember the paschal mystery, from the Cross to the Resurrection, passing through the crown of thorns, to return to the transept at the foot of the statue of the Virgin and Child, found intact afterwards. the fire. As for the southern chapels, they will be dedicated to Parisian or international figures of holiness.

The side chapels will thus be designed as a privileged space for this thematic and artistic journey. Soberly painted by Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th centurye century, sometimes stripped a century later, while the fashion for exposed stone triumphed, these chapels had until then been generally neglected, sometimes cluttered with poorly lit paintings and without concern for consistency.

Spiritual discovery

Father Gilles Drouin makes it clear, “It will not be an educational itinerary, just the proposal of experiences through beauty”. For this, the existing works, including the famous Mays, large paintings commissioned for the cathedral in the 17th centurye and XVIIIe centuries, or the superb carved choir fence from the 14the century, will be requested. In echo, “Works of today”, paintings or tapestries in the great tradition, will be ordered, without anything, for the moment, having been decided yet. The video projection, or insertion of biblical quotes, will deepen spiritual discovery.

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The underlying idea is to take up and enhance the existing heritage – with major pieces such as The Nativity of the Virgin of the Le Nain brothers – and to enrich it with contemporary works, the cathedral having been, at all times, endowed with new productions. A new page is being written in the history of Notre-Dame.


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