Grand Duchess a patroness of new Notre Dame bell

Photo: Gerry Huberty

(CS) Grand Duchess Maria Teresa will act as patroness at the consecration of Notre Dame Cathedral's new bells in Paris on Saturday.

Nine new bells will be blessed by Cardinal André XXIII, Archbishop of Paris, at the French capital's cathedral to mark its 850th anniversary, with Luxembourg's Grand Duchess assisting the blessing as namesake of one of the bells to be named Marie.

Luxembourg's Grand Duke will also travel to Paris for the occasion.

Two children called Marie and Louis-Marie will join her in the blessing which begins at 5pm on Saturday.

The Marie bell, cast in the Netherlands and weighing six tonnes, was named in honour of the Virgin Mary. The other eight bells have also been named after saints or other religious personalities, including Pope Benedict XVI.

The bells' “godparents” who will assist the blessing ceremony were chosen to reflect the names that the bells were given (Marie, Gabriel, Anne-Geneviève, Denis, Marcel, Etienne, Benoît-Joseph, Maurice and Jean-Marie).

The bells are set to arrive in Paris on Thursday ahead of Saturday's festive celebration.

The Marie will be the centre-piece of the new bell installations. The Notre Dame's famous Emmanuel bell, one of the most impressive church bells in Europe and only sounded for special occasions, will remain in place. The new bells are meant to relieve the Emmanuel, so that it will be able to ring for years to come after having survived since 1685.

Eight of the new bells will be blessed at 11am on Saturday, with the Marie set to be consecrated at 5pm.

Over 1,500 people are expected for the service, and the Notre Dame Cathedral will remain open until midnight.

The bells will be on display at the cathedral until February 25, and will ring for the first time on March 23.