New bells en route for Paris' Notre Dame cathedral

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Associated Press

Posted on January 31, 2013 at 7:32 AM

Updated Thursday, Jan 31 at 7:35 AM

VILLEDIEU-LES-POELES, France (AP) — Nine enormous, new bronze bells are on their way to Paris to help the medieval Notre Dame Cathedral rediscover its historical harmony.

The bells, named after saints and weighing a total of 23 tons altogether, will be on display at the cathedral from Saturday through Feb. 25. Then they will be hoisted to its iconic twin towers, where they will replace older bells that had become discordant.

They are scheduled to ring for the first time on Palm Sunday, March 24.

Eight of the nine new bells were cast in a foundry in the Normandy town of Villedieu. Joined by the ninth — a "Great Bell" named Marie — they were blessed in a benediction ceremony by a local priest, then sent on a convoy of trucks Thursday from Villedieu to Paris.

The new bells are part of celebrations marking 850 years since the beginning of the cathedral's construction in 1163. It took nearly 90 years to build.

Once in Paris, they will join the cathedral's oldest surviving bell, named Emmanuel.

"Historically the idea of this project was to recreate the old bells of Notre Dame in terms of power, in terms of tune, which means that there will be again 10 bells ringing into the cathedral as it used to be in the Middle Ages and up until the French Revolution," said Paul Bergamo, president of the Cornille-Havard Foundry in Villedieu-les-Poeles.

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