One of the most distinctive features of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris is the great bell. It has a name: Emmanuel.
However, did it survive the fire that ravaged the cathedral on April 15, 2019? Thankfully, yes. According to CNN, the cathedral’s “main bell” was saved, as were its twin bell towers.
The French President, Emmanuel Macron, attempted to capture the meaning of Notre Dame in words. “Notre Dame is our history, it’s our literature, it’s our imagery. It’s the place where we live our greatest moments, from wars to pandemics to liberations,” he said. “This history is ours. And it burns. It burns and I know the sadness so many of our fellow French feel.”
There were worries early on that the great bell could fall, although, thankfully, it did not. Such was its importance to the building. “There’s a risk that the great bell falls. If the bell falls, it’s the tower that collapses. There are firefighters inside and outside,” Jean-Claude Gallet, commander general of the Paris Fire Brigade, told CNN early on. It’s not yet clear what caused the fire; early reports indicated authorities think it might be linked to a major renovation project.
Other treasures, such as the three rose windows, and the crown of thorns, also survived the blaze, which destroyed part of the roof and the iconic spire.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Enormous Bell Weighs 13 Tons & Was Named by a King
For centuries, reports FrenchAffair.com, the bells of Notre Dame have “rung out for deliverances of the city, victories in war, liturgical festivals, visits by popes, state funerals and the coronations of kings.” The site reports that each new bell added to the cathedral was “tuned perfectly to ring in harmony with the cathedral’s the original bell, Emmanuel,” and the others have names too.
Emmanuel Bell “was the name given to the second Grand Bell in the South Tower of the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral,” reports EuTouring.com, which says the great bell “dated from 15th century and was recast in 1681 upon the request of King Louis XIV who named it the Emmanuel Bell.”
It weighs 13 tons and already was saved from the destruction reaped by the French Revolution. “It is still one of the most beautiful sound vessels and one of the most remarkable in Europe,” the site explained.
The great bell, Emmanuel, chimed to commemorate the life lost on September 11, 2001. According to The Federalist, the largest bell, Emmanuel, “which had played the celebratory tones at the ends of both World Wars, was nearing 600 years of age and generally reserved for only a few annual holidays, state funerals, and visits from the pope.” However, on September 12, 2001, it played, for an entire hour.