Lichfield Remembers the Notre-Dame Fire

10th December 2019

Notre-Dame Cathedral will be remembered this Christmas as images from its famous windows are projected across the nave of Lichfield Cathedral as an act of solidarity with the Paris landmark, and to raise awareness of the fragility of all our cathedrals.

The world was shocked by the pictures of Notre-Dame, burning orange against the sky, as fire engulfed it last April. The gothic spire and roof collapsed, but remarkably many of its treasures were saved, including its two bell towers and its three Rose windows.

Notre Dame Fire Lichfield Cathedral Illuminated

Now elements of those famous Rose windows have been incorporated into The Cathedral Illuminated 2019: The Beginning – the latest project by the cathedral’s Artistic Director, Peter Walker working with Luxmuralis, to create a spectacular light and sound show inside and outside the cathedral using immersive soundscapes and visual projections onto the architecture.

The central piece of this new artwork to be projected throughout the nave covering the floor, walls and ceilings, will be composed of images from Notre-Dame’s stained glass and will include a new piece of music by composer, David Harper.

The Dean of Lichfield, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber, sent a message of condolence to France in the wake of the Notre-Dame fire, and Notre-Dame has agreed to send a chaplain, Canon Jérôme Bascoul to be his special guest when The Cathedral Illuminated 2019 opens next Monday (16 December).

M Jean Pierre le Dinh, Notre-Dame’s Chief of Staff, said they were “deeply touched” by the expression of solidarity and support.

The Dean said:

“Along with millions of people around the world, we watched with profound sadness as the devastating fire ripped through Notre-Dame. It brought back memories of the last fire at one of our cathedrals here, York Minster in 1984, and reminded us that many of our cathedrals are immensely fragile and require the very best of our efforts to preserve them and keep them safe.

“As a Dean of one of England’s gothic cathedrals, I know how much we owe to France for the development of an evocative architectural tradition, one which was so widely adopted by the rest of Europe.

“And, as an act of solidarity with the people of France, we decided to use the windows of Notre-Dame in our central projections this Christmas, enabling our 20,000 visitors to be immersed in their beauty and to remind them of what could have been lost.

“Our cathedrals are amongst our greatest national and international treasures, they are at the heart of a country’s history, culture and social fabric, and a testament to its faith. We would all be so much the poorer without them,” he added.

(Next year, 2020 will celebrate all of our cathedrals as Year of Cathedrals, Year of Pilgrimage).

It is the fifth year Lichfield Cathedral has created The Cathedral Illuminated for Christmas and the show has won Best Event in Staffordshire for three years running. This year it features Constellation: In the Image and Likeness, an art installation created from self-portraits that is suspended in the nave. The Cathedral has also invited Notre-Dame to submit photos of those who helped save the iconic French building, and so become part of the biggest public art participation project Lichfield Cathedral has ever undertaken. It has attracted over 40,000 self-portraits so far from across the county.

The artist, Peter Walker said:

“We are proud to stand alongside our sister Cathedral of Notre-Dame at this time and hope our visitors see how, by using the images from their windows in this stunning new light and sound projection, their story becomes ours, and ours theirs.”

An investigation is still ongoing into what could have started the fire at Notre-Dame. The cathedral is still covered in scaffolding and plastic sheeting and “remains in danger”. Meanwhile, the French culture ministry has said nearly €1bn (£860m) had been pledged or raised for the reconstruction.

Cathedral Illuminated 2019: The Beginning opens Dec 16 to Dec 21. Shows run from 17.30 to 21.00. Tickets are available on Lichfield Cathedral’s website here.