Outrage: Macron to Replace Historic Stained Glass Windows of Notre Dame Cathedral

Outrage: Macron to Replace Historic Stained Glass Windows of Notre Dame Cathedral

French President Emmanuel Macron is facing public outrage over plans to replace historic stained glass windows in the Cathedral of Notre Dame with modern versions amid reconstruction efforts after the devastating fire of 2019.

More than 62,000 people in France have signed a petition launched on Sunday by the La Tribune de l’art website against efforts from Emmanuel Macron to replace 19th-century stained glass windows designed by French architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in six of the seven chapels on the south aisle of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

During a visit to the cathedral on Friday, President Macron pronounced that the installation of the modern stained glass windows would carry “the brand of the 21st century”. Macron said that the windows would be installed in 2025 and would be designed by the winner of a competition of artists.

The author of the petition which denounced the move as having a “lack of regard for the heritage code” and for the cathedral, Didier Rykner said per Le Figaro: “The stained glass windows were not affected by the fire and are classified as a historic monument in the same way as the monument.”

Rather than replacing the work of Viollet-le-Duc, who led restoration efforts of the medieval cathedral in the 1800s, the petition suggested that the modern stained glass windows could replace plain white glass windows on the roof of the north tower.

“Installing these stained glass windows there would therefore not harm the harmony desired by Viollet-le-Duc and would constitute an enrichment of the cathedral, which is also accessible to visitors who will once again be able to access this place normally operated by the Center of National Monuments,” the petition said.

Rykner also noted that installing the new stained glass windows in the north tower would also serve to honour the firefighters who risked their lives to put out the 2019 fire as it was there where the main efforts were made to prevent the fire from spreading and destroying the entire cathedral.

“Paying homage to the firefighters, bringing new stained glass windows to Notre Dame without vandalising the work of Viollet-le-Duc, giving future visitors more to see: this common-sense solution could suit everyone. Let’s hope that the President of the Republic hears us,” he wrote.

Since reconstruction efforts began there has been a battle between those wishing to preserve the heritage of the beloved building and those who wished to use the opportunity to reshape it with modernist ideals.

Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, who served as minister of culture from 2020 to 2022, claimed in her autobiography that the Macron government had planned an “architectural gesture” to modernity and that French First Lady Brigitte Macron had even pushed for the installation of a statue with a “sort of erect phallus with its base surrounded with golden balls” during a planning meeting.