Notre-Dame de Paris: the liturgical layout of the cathedral under study

The appointment is made: in December 2024, the Notre-Dame cathedral should open to the public again. And if the enormous challenge of rebuilding the roof is advancing at high speed, there are dozens of points in the cathedral still under construction, starting with the liturgical layout.

Last October, Mgr Laurent Ulrich, new Archbishop of Paris, brought together an artistic committee made up of representatives of the diocese, the Ministry of Culture, the public establishment responsible for the conservation and restoration of the cathedral as well as qualified personalities in the field of liturgical planning and artistic creation.

A call for applications to create the liturgical furniture

The first decision was to launch a call for applications for the production of liturgical furniture. A request launched to artists, invited to create while immersing themselves in Our Ladyunique and remarkable. “It will be an opportunity to open up to the best of art today”confirms Father Gilles Drouin, director of the Higher Institute of Liturgy of the Catholic Institute of Paris (ICP), adviser to the Archbishop of Paris, who closely follows the progress of the file.

Nothing filters out of this first selection or of the entire file placed under the responsibility of Bishop Olivier Ribadeau-Dumas, rector of Notre-Dame. We just hear about dozens of files submitted to a first barrage. In a few days, the Archbishop of Paris could retain five to seven candidates, inviting them to develop their projects which will be presented before May 2023.

The winner will be announced during the summer, leaving a little over a year for the realization of the furniture. “This will include the five elements of the altar, the ambo, the cathedra, the tabernacle and the baptistery, presenting a coherent whole”explains Father Drouin.

Involve the people of the faithful more in the celebration

A liturgist attentive to the theology expressed by the layout of the space, Gilles Drouin insists on the presence of a baptistery at the entrance to the nave, even though visitors and worshipers will enter the cathedral through the central door. The development of Notre-Dame is a stage on the long road which allows the people of the faithful to be more associated with the celebration, one of the pillars of the Second Vatican Council: “The Mass is not a theatrical performance, with the priests on a stage and spectators foreign to the Eucharistic mystery. We have to find how to honor the baptismal dimension of all, bishop, priests and faithful of the faithful, to articulate the choir and the nave. »

The reflection goes as far as the lighting, which should not be exclusively centered on the sanctuary. Heritage, functional, the arrangement of the liturgical space also has a theological dimension. “As we reflect on a more synodal Church, it is important that the whole church be celebrants”insists Gilles Drouin.

After a passionate debate around benches equipped with a lighting system, finally put away, it remains to organize the nave. It is planned to install 1,500 chairs, the design of which will also be defined following consultations with artists. Chairs which, according to the Archbishop of Paris, will be the sign of a community gathered in a place which is primarily religious. “A place of community celebration, it is essential that Notre-Dame can also be a place of individual prayerinsists Father Drouin. We must think of the church for the liturgy, but also for devotion and as a missionary and catechetical place. »

A mission, here again, in line with the Second Vatican Council, and which could be applied in all the churches often visited: “What do we show non-believers who visit our churches? They are not only an architectural heritage but a real introduction to mystery. » The pilgrimage route that could find a place on the wandering circuit still needs to be refined, as this missionary perspective is so important and current. Undoubtedly, the liturgical arrangement of the cathedral raises questions and reflections, which will have repercussions beyond Notre-Dame.


A construction site on the right track

April 15, 2019. Fire at Notre-Dame de Paris, which destroys the frame and the spire.

November 28, 2019. Creation of a public institution responsible for the conservation and restoration of the cathedral, chaired by General Jean-Louis Georgelin.

May 31, 2020. Reopening of the square to the public.

July 9, 2020. Identical reconstruction of the arrow validated.

June 16, 2021. Bishop Aupetit celebrates a mass in a small committee in the cathedral under construction.

September 2021. End of security works.

February 2022. Archaeological excavations in the floor of the cathedral.

April 26, 2022. Appointment of Mgr Laurent Ulrich, Archbishop of Paris.

October 11, 2022. Consultation of artists for preselection for a competition for the liturgical arrangement of the cathedral.

July 2023. Designation of the artist selected for the liturgical arrangement.

December 8, 2024. Planned reopening of the cathedral.

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Notre-Dame de Paris: the liturgical layout of the cathedral under study

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