Notre Dame Cathedral

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Date: 1163
Location: Paris, Francemap
Surnames/tags: Notre Dame Catholic History
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Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is beloved by all. It is nicknamed "Our Lady of Paris". It is considered to be the heart of Paris. Even though it is a Catholic treasure, all faiths hold it dear for its history and reverence. More than 13 million people a year visit.

It sits on a small island, the Ile de la Cite, on the River Seine. It stands on top of the ruins of two other churches, as well as a Gallo-Roman Temple that was dedicated to Jupiter.

The West facade, which is the photo for the profile, is the most iconic image in the world. Having been completed in the 13th century, parts of its carvings and statues have degraded and been demolished over time. Extra care and effort has been made to make sure all the damaged treasures are duplicated. It is divided into three stories. The doors have fine early Gothic carvings and are a row of Old Testament Kings.

The Gothic towers are 223 feet high. They were suppose to have spires on top too but those additions were never made.

Each of the portals has its own significance. It will mean a climb of 400 steps to get to the top, but the views are worth it if you are able to make it.

The left one represents the life of the Virgin Mary, astrological calendar and is the coronation site.

The middle portal represents the Last Judgment with the three pictures of the rising of the dead, judgement, Christ and the apostles. Christ reigning being the highest one.

The right one is the Portal of Saint-Anne. It has the oldest and most beautiful, last surviving sculpture. It has been in existence since the 12th Century. It is Mary, sitting on a throne with Christ in her arms.

The Gallery of Kings tops the portals. It displays the Statues of the 28 kings of Israel. The originals were beheaded during the revolution so the current ones are duplicates.

The main window, one of the three Rose Windows, can also be seen in this amazing photo. The original 13th century glass is still in those windows. Yet another treasure, as they are that old. The purplish blue colors have been used in other windows. It is tempered in the rose windows were it is not in the others.

The Cathedral has withstood over 800 years of wear and tear. Good times and bad, history to the brim and a symbol of spirituality and reverence, it holds a spot in everyone's heart. It in is in our global, cultural and spiritual DNA.


1163 Construction began under the reign of King Louis VII by Maurice de Sully, bishop of Paris and Pope Alexander III laid the foundation stone

1185 The Third Crusade was called for from here by Heraclius of Caesarea

1189 The high Alter was consecrated

1210-1250 Massive early Gothic Towers make up part of the western facade

1235-1270 large clerestory windows were added to the apse, as well as single-arch flying buttresses (Rayonnant Gothic style)

1239 Saint Louis IX, King of France placed The Crown of Thorns in the cathedral

1250 Choir, western facade and nave completed

1302 The first States General was opened by Philip IV the Fair, King of France

1345 Construction, including the porches, Chapels and other embellishments were completed. About 1,000 workers contributed to the labor put into building it

December 16, 1431 Henry VI, King of England is crowned in Notre Dame Cathedral

November 7, 1455 A papal delegation was petitioned to overturn Joan of Arc's convicton, by her mother, Isabelle Romee

1537 James V, king of Scotland married Madeleine of France Valois in the Cathedral

April 24, 1558 Mary I, Queen of Scots married Dauphin Francois (later to become Francois II of France)

August 18, 1572 Henry of Navarre, later King Henry IV of France, married Marguerite de Valois

16th century Huguenots, group of French Protestants, damaged statues they thought to be idolatrous

1710 Sculpted altar dedicated to pagan deites, Jupiter and others, were excavated under the choir

1793 Destroyed during revolution by anti-royalists who removed and decapitated statues that they thought represented French kings, they were actually biblical kings

During this time, 19 of the 20 bells were removed, melted down and turned into cannons. The only one to escape this was the 1681 bourdon, Emmanuel

1800s In a state of disrepair, it was close to being demolished. Napoleon Bonaparte stepped in and saved it by having it restored.

December 2, 1804 Napoleon crowned himself emperor of the French in the cathedral and then crowned Josephine.

1831 Victor Hugo wrote the classic, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It restored interest in the cathedral.

Mid 19th century Eugene Emmanuel Viollet le Duc, French architect, made major restorations to Notre Dame. The restorations were said to have been inspired by Hugo's book and that is the when the gargoyles were added to the structure

1835 Archbishop of Paris put relics of Saint Denis (patron saint of France) and Saint Genevieve (patron saint of Paris) in the spire. It was to protect the cathedral

1852 Famous Spire is standing tall, replacing the previous one which was not stable

1859-1860 Sculptures of the twelve apostles and four New Testament evangelists were installed in the cathedral by Eugene Viollet le Duc. His face was the model for the figure of Saint Thomas

1900 Louis Vierne, after competing against 500 other players, was chosen official Notre Dame organist

1909 Joan of Arc, who was declared innocent and a martyr on July 7, 1456 was beatified in the Cathedral by Pope Pius X

May 16, 1920 Joan of Arc was canonised

1924 Marker for Point Zero was set in its spot. It is where milage, from Paris to other locations, is measured from

June 2, 1937 Official organist, Louis Vierne, achieved his life long wish when he passed away at the Notre Dame cathedral organ

1939 Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame was made into a film, with Charles Laughton bringing attention to the Cathedral

1940s The main window, The Rose Window, was rumored to be in danger. German soldiers threatened to destroy it. Reportedly the largest glass window to be produced in the 13th century, it had to be saved. It was removed at the beginning of WWII and only replaced in its home after the war was over

August 26, 1944 The bells rang out to celebrate the liberation of Paris, as they did to denote the end of WWI. It is reported that snipers were located in the internal and external galleries and interupted the Mass by exchanging gun fire

August 28, 1944 United States soldiers were welcomed by some French women outside of the Cathedral

April 16, 1945 Funeral services were held at the Cathedral for United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a way to honor him.

1969 North Vietnamese flag is flown at Notre Dame after peace talks about possible cease-fire in Vietnam

1960s and 1970s Additional architectural ruins were found, that were dated back to the antient pagen era. They are now in the crypt that is beneath the square in front of the cathedral

November 12, 1970 Funeral was held for former French President Charles De Gaulle, United States President Richard Nixon and other leaders were in attendance

1977 Archaeologists found statues of biblical kings that were stolen by revolutionists in 1793 and had them restored

May 31, 1980 On the parvis in front of the cathedral, Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass

1988 Service was held to honor Royal British Legion and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in WWI. In attendance was Princess Diana, in addition to many others.

1991-2000 Cleaning and restoration campain carried out

January 1996 Requiem Mass held for Francois Mitterrand

Also in this year, Disney made an animated version of the movie, once again bringing a renewed interest to Notre Dame

August 22, 1997 Pope John Paul II was at the cathedral for a beatification ceremony.

September 11, 2001 Emmanuel, the most famous of the 10 bells, was rung to mark the tragedy in New York, United States when the Twin Towers were attacked

August 10, 2007 Archbishop emeritus of Paris, Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger's Requiem Mass was held

2013 Notre Dame Cathedral celebrates its 850th anniversary

Also at this time, bee hives were placed on the roof. They were filled with a special strain of bees developed by monk Brother Adam, and were extremely gentle. The honey, made from flowering plants around hte cathedral, was given away to the poor

November 15, 2015 National service was held for victims of the Paris terror attack. This is one of the many times Notre Dame as served as hope for the people. More than 9000 people attended inside the Cathedral while thousand more stood outside in silence

September 2016 Abandoned car found near Notre Dame, gas cylinders, gasoline soaked blanket and an extinguished cigarette were inside it with the emergency flashers on. no detonation devices were found and a couple of those arrested had ties to the Islamic State militant group

Also at that time, a few days later, a second car was found. This one was packed with explosives and was meant to be a car bomb attack on Notre Dame

November 9, 2017 Dame de Coeur, a light show, celebrated the 100 year anniversary of WWI.

April 15, 2019 Notre Dame Cathedral was devastated by fire. The structure is still intact, but most of the rest is gone, including the spire. As it was being refurbished, some of the artifacts had been moved out. It is not yet determined how much has been saved or lost but there is a possiblity the artifacts have been saved.

Artifacts and Art

The building itself, is an historical artifact and listed as a World Heritage site, but many other artifacts have been housed inside of it. The gothic architecture is a treasure.

The 13-ton bell in its tower, as read about in the book by Victor Hugo and seen by many in the movie, was originally rung by someone who would have to climb up to it. Today it has been automated. If you want to see it, you will have to climb the 140 steps in the staircase and would also get a stunning view of Paris

An organ,.that is very historical, calls the Cathedral home. It is from the 17th Century and is extremely large. All of its parts are still functional and used. it has almost 8000 pipes, some of which are from the 18th century and has 5 keyboards

Plans, engravings and drawings of the building and other places in the area, including maps showing how Paris became the place it is, are located there.

Crown of Thorns, the one believed to have been worn by Christ as he went to his crucifixtion calls Notre Dame home

A piece of wood, believed to be from the cross Christ was crucified on

10 bells including the most famous bell, the bourdon. it is named Emmanuel and has tolled at coronations, papal visits and the end of wars

Statues of biblical kings that revolutionists thought were French kings. They removed and decapitated them. Archaeologists found the removed ones and they have been restored

14th century wooden panels that showed the life of Christ

78 wooden choir stalls carved and added in the 18th century

Tunic of Saint Louis

Sculptures of the Twelve Apostles

Sculptures of the four New Testament evangelists

Paintings, furniture and other precious pieces


  • Personal Knowledge of most of the world on April 15, 2019
  • National Catholic Register:
  • Notre Dame Cathedral's History Has Always Been One of Destruction and Restoration, by Olivia B Waxman:
  • 13 Facts About Notre Dame Cathedral, by Allison C Meier, April 15, 2019:
  • Stained Glass of hte Middle Ages in England and France, Painted by Lawrence B Saint, Described by Hugh Arnold, Adam and Charles Black Soho Square, London, MCMXIII

See Also:

  • Day, Lewis F, Windows: a Book About Stained and Painted Glass, pg 133, London 1897
  • Dillon, Edward, Glass, pgs 132-133, New York and London

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