‘Near twin’ of Notre Dame clock found in storage

Paris, France, Jun 25, 2019 / 03:10 pm (CNA).- A clock nearly identical to the one destroyed in the fire at Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris has been found in storage. The duplicate was found at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Paris, in what is being called a “miraculous discovery.” This find brings new hope restoration efforts at the landmark cathedral.

The original clock was located near the cathedral spire, which collapsed during the April 15 fire. It was feared there would be no way to rebuild the clock, as there were no surviving drawings of its mechanism or any digital records of how the clock was made.

The timepiece’s near-twin was found by clockmaker Jean-Baptiste Viot, during a storage inventory at Holy Trinity.

Viot called the find “incredible,” and “like finding a second copy of a burned book.”

The Church of the Holy Trinity’s original clock was replaced by an electronic model about 50 years ago. The old clock was then put in storage, and was discovered behind a wooden board amid statues and furniture in a small storage room.

Olivier Chandez, who was responsible for maintaining the clock at Notre-Dame de Paris, described the discovery as “almost a miracle.”

“If we only had the photos, we would have had to extrapolate,” he said. “But with this model, we have all the dimensions.”

While the clocks are very similar, Chandez said that there are enough differences to prevent restorers from simply inserting Holy Trinity’s clock into the refurbished Notre-Dame.

While it has not been specifically confirmed that the rebuilt cathedral will even include a clock, Viot insisted that not doing so would be unthinkable.

“A cathedral without a clock? It’s like an aircraft carrier without any planes,” said Viot.

Since the April fire, more than one billion dollars has been raised for the restoration effort.

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  1. Actually, a cathedral without a clock is NOT quite like “an aircraft carrier without any planes” (once served on a carrier). The rose window better makes the comparison than does a clock which might be more akin to a ship’s rudder.

    Instead, Gothic cathedrals are all about the timeless translucence of the rose window and of light pouring in through the stained-glass walls. Luminous spirituality infusing the created and structured terrestrial world of upward-extended columns, ribbed vaults, flying buttresses, and a spire—-all pointing vertically back to heaven.

    While early clocks did keep time for the monastic Liturgy of the Hours, the later addition of big clocks on public buildings and, first, cathedrals (sadly) is more about the quantification of time itself, as a totally different and finally secular mindset—-more associated with the later industrial world, the measured daily work schedule, and then the regimented mass production of standardized parts and Model-T Fords like the already-standardized minutes and hours all of which are exactly the same everywhere and all the time, so to speak—-and all of which point to a horizontal future. The thing about rose windows is the Christian vision; the thing about clocks is the working hands.

    A duplicate, “miracle” clock, yes, and surely do restore its likeness to Notre Dame!

    But the real miracle, beyond measure, is the survival intact of the rose windows and the stained glass (even if much is from a 19th century restoration by Violet-le-Duc).

    The oldest and no-longer existing cathedral mechanical clock, probably, was at Milan Cathedral in Italy, in 1335. The earlier and original Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris would not yet have been tied down by a clock.

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