New, modern stained glass windows will soon be installed at Notre-Dame de Paris. And their appearance could surprise some regulars of the building.

Five years after the fire that ravaged Notre-Dame de Paris, work on the cathedral is progressing rapidly. During his visit in December 2023, President Emmanuel Macron considered the introduction of new stained glass windows in six of the seven side chapels on the south side. These contemporary stained glass windows will replace those of Viollet-Le-Duc, spared by the flames but weakened.

The decision of the Head of State follows the desire expressed by Mgr Laurent Ulrich, Archbishop of Paris since 2022, to “mark a trace of this event in the restored building”. Mgr Ulrich had specified that he wanted to see certain stained glass windows of the cathedral present in the side chapels of the nave replaced, to erect new, more contemporary ones, while suggesting that the choice of the artist responsible for creating these new stained glass windows could give rise to a competition.

In early March, Culture Minister Rachida Dati appointed an artistic committee chaired by Bernard Blistère, former director of the National Museum of Modern Art at the Center Pompidou, to study the artists’ proposals. During the consultation launched on April 10, the first information about the competition was revealed. We now know the precise instructions and what these stained glass windows will look like.

Each project can be carried out by an artist and a master glassmaker and must respect very strict and detailed specifications. The future stained glass windows of the cathedral must produce “neutral light, of the same nature, color and intensity, as that currently provided by the current windows”. Unlike those of Viollet-Le-Duc representing only floral and geometric motifs, these new stained glass windows will be figurative. They must, according to the iconographic program drawn up by the diocese of Paris, “show the bodies, the faces, the reactions of the first Christian assembly”, and maintain a certain overall coherence.

The diocese of Paris also wants the future glass roof to be placed “under the sign of the Holy Spirit” because it will adorn the “Pentecost alley” formed by the south aisle. Artists are also advised to take into account in the choice of colors the stained glass window of the Tree of Jesse which will be in the middle of the contemporary stained glass windows as well as to keep in mind the color of the stone of Notre Dame.

The first selection will take place in June 2024 before the final choice in November 2024. Their installation will not take place before 2026 but the prototypes will be presented during the inauguration on December 8, 2024.