Sunday February 10, 2013

PARIS (AP) -- The cathedral of Notre Dame -- French for "our lady" -- has finally got the prima donna worthy of its name. Weighing in at six and a half tons or 6,000 kilograms of glistening bronze, this lady is no ordinary person: she’s a bell named Mary.

Mary is in fact the largest -- and loudest -- of nine new, gargantuan Notre Dame bells blessed Saturday in the cathedral’s nave by Archbishop Andre Armand Vingt-Trois.

"They are beautiful (bells)... We will hear them ringing today during the celebration, and we will hear them during coming years as Notre Dame’s chimes," Father Edouard, a priest from outside Paris who had come for the blessing, said.

The nine casts were ordered for the cathedral’s 850th birthday -- to replace the discordant "ding dang" of the previous four 19th century chimes.

After the originals bells -- including the original Mary -- were destroyed in the French Revolution, the replacements were widely said to be France’s most out-of-tune church bells.