VILLEDIEU-LES-POELES, France -- Nine enormous bronze bells have made their way on flatbed trucks from a Normandy foundry to what is hoped will be their home for centuries to come, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, helping the medieval edifice to rediscover its historical harmony.
The bells, named after saints and prominent Catholic figures, will be on display at the cathedral from Saturday through Feb. 25. Then they will be hoisted to the twin towers, where they will replace older bells that had become discordant.
The bells are scheduled to ring for the first time March 23, in time for Palm Sunday and Easter week.
Eight of the nine new bells were cast in a foundry in the Normandy town of Villedieu-les-Poeles. The ninth, a "bourdon," or Great Bell, named Marie, was cast in the Netherlands and sent to Normandy to join the others.
The president of the foundry rang the bells, to the cheers of onlookers, before the nine new bells were sent on a convoy of trucks yesterday to Paris.
They are joining the cathedral's oldest surviving bell, a Great Bell named Emmanuel, to restore the 10-bell harmony originally conceived for the bell towers.
The old bells, which dated from different periods throughout Notre Dame's history, were out of tune with each other and with Emmanuel, which has hung in the cathedral since the 17th century, according to cathedral officials.
One of the new bells was named Jean-Marie, after Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, a Jewish-born convert to Catholicism whose mother died in the Auschwitz death camp and who worked to reconcile Catholics and Jews. Lustiger was archbishop of Paris from 1981 to 2005; Jean-Marie was the name he adopted when he converted to Catholicism.