Sunday, March 31, 2013

Inside of Notre-Dame, Paris

The inside of Notre-Dame is just as inspiring as the exterior. It was used for the coronations of kings and even Napoleon as emperor in 1804. The Revolutionaries tried to change it to a temple of reason but wound up using it to store food. It almost fell into ruin but Victor Hugo's Hunchback of Notre-Dame (published in 1831) restored local interest and pride in the church. In 1944, the Mass marking the liberation of Paris from Nazi Germany was celebrated here.

The interior is quite spacious. When we visited, they were displaying some of the bells along the nave.

View from the center up to the main altar

View from the center down to the entrance doors

One of the bells from upstairs

The main altar features a Pieta by Nicolas Coustou. The Pieta was commissioned by Louis XIII as thanksgiving for the birth of his son, who became Louis XIV in due time.

Main altar

The rose windows in the transepts date from the mid-1200s but have been extensively restored, i.e. very little of the glass is medieval. The South Rose Window features Christ surrounded by saints, virgins, and the apostles.

South Rose Window

Many other fine stained glass windows are found throughout the church.

Abstractions near the entrance

Hebrew Kings/Ancestors of Jesus?

Saints (the praying silhouette is a statue)

Many fine statues are also found throughout the church.

St. Joan of Arc

St. Therese


Madonna and Child

The side chapels and walls of the church also have paintings. A famous series of paintings is the "Mays" paintings. Every year from 1630 to 1707, the Parisian goldsmiths' guild donated a new painting on the first of May (being Mary's month, after all). Thirteen are still on display, though I did not photograph any of them.

Icon of the Madonna and child

St. Thomas Aquinas teaching
A small display shows the history of the building of the cathedral. J particularly enjoyed the scale model of the work site.

Evolution of the Gothic style

J admires the construction process

The great chandelier from the crossing of the nave and transept was also down for viewing by the public.

The grand chandelier

The side chapel of St. Denis features another statue of the early French martyr.

Chapel of St. Denis

The sacraments are also available at the church. We saw a nice confessional and the ornate baptismal font.


Baptismal font with John the Baptist on top

We did not explore the treasury, where the Crown of Thorns is kept. It gives us something to look forward to next time (in addition to visiting the roof and seeing the flying buttresses out back).

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