Will Notre-Dame of Paris Change Forever?

The layout and possible changes inside Notre-Dame Cathedral remain blurry. Yet, circulating rumours are already controversial and a topic of concern for experts and faithful.

Newsroom  (06/01/2022 09:18 AM, Gaudium Press)  In a recent interview with KTOTV, the Archbishop Emeritus of Versailles, Most Rev. Eric Aumonier, answered questions about the layout of the interior spaces of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris.
Since last December, a controversy was established when the National Commission for Heritage and Architecture (CNPA) validated part of the project to change the interior of the Cathedral. Notre Dame is under restoration after the fire on April 15, 2019.

Harmonizing Liturgy and Tourism

For many, the questions remain unanswered: will the interior of Notre Dame change? And what will these be?
In an interview, Arch. Aumonier, responsible for the restoration work of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, did not offer any further details, other than those mentioned earlier by Fr. Gilles Drouin, who oversees the Cathedral’s interior.
However, the Archdiocese of Paris plans to make the Cathedral more welcoming to tourists. To this end, the central axis of the Cathedral will be reserved for liturgy. And the side spaces will serve as a path of Christian initiation.
With almost 12 million visitors a year, “we must remember that not all visitors belong to the Christian culture. So, while visiting a Catholic cathedral, they can understand where they are. So whatever we can do to help them, we will do,” – noted Arch. Aumonier.

Details pending definition

Despite these clear goals, the execution of the project is not fully established. Furthermore, extra steps need implementation, such as using the side chapels to carry the Gospel message, including projections of phrases in different languages to better welcome visitors and placing a baptismal font in the central nave. Experts, however, challenge the innovation because the baptistery was not part of the previous layout. Furthermore, the design of the new baptismal font remains unknown.

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“It is not a question of modifying Notre Dame”

As per the situation of the reliquary of the crown of thorns, the organ of the presbytery and the tabernacle, partially or totally destroyed by the fire, Arch. Aumonier did not give any further details but assured that “it is not a question of modifying Notre-Dame (…) it is not in our power nor is it our desire.”
He also tried to ease the concerns assuring that the details of the project will still be laid out for the appreciation and consultation of the faithful, keeping with the spirit of synodality currently preached by Pope Francis.

Introduction of modern artworks and expert opinion

According to Fr. Gilles Drouin, the restoration plan intends to use works of art already at the Cathedral in conjunction with modern productions.
Didier Rykner, an expert on art history and a journalist, is concerned about the changes pointing out that the “diocese desperately wants to look modern…”

Rykner is at odds with some of the propositions, such as removing the confessionals and pieces designed by Viollet-le-Duc and introducing modern artwork that could mar the Cathedral. (FM)

Compiled by Gustavo Kralj

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