Over 125K sign petition protesting plan to replace historic Notre Dame stained glass windows

A fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral caused massive damage.(ITV)

(CP) More than 125,000 people have signed a petition to protest a plan to replace historic stained glass windows in Notre Dame Cathedral with contemporary artwork.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced during a visit to the cathedral earlier this month that windows in six of the south aisle's seven side chapels would be removed and replaced with new windows that will be chosen in a competition, according to The Guardian.

The old windows will be placed in the new Notre Dame Museum, Macron said.

Since the fire that devastated the 800-year-old structure in April 2019, the cathedral has been undergoing a massive rebuilding campaign that involves 250 French companies and art workshops.

Macron noted during his visit that the rebuilding efforts are on schedule to ensure the cathedral is restored and open to the public by December 2024, according to CNN.

Macron also expressed his desire that the 21st century "have its place among the many others that feature in the works of this cathedral," and said the competition to replace the stained glass windows is an effort to "mark this 21st century."

The idea to replace the windows was floated to the French government by Archbishop of Paris Laurent Ulrich, and Macron readily agreed, according to The Guardian.

The windows slated for removal, which were untouched by the fire, were designed by French architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, who famously restored Notre Dame Cathedral and many of the country's other medieval landmarks.

The petition protesting the move noted that Viollet-le-Duc's windows "were created as a coherent whole."

"It is a genuine creation that the architect wanted to be faithful to the cathedral's gothic origins," the petition says.

Petition creator Didier Rykner said that instead of removing the undamaged windows in the south aisle, it would make more sense for the government to commission windows for the northern part of the cathedral, which took the brunt of the blaze.

"As you can see from some of the videos, the cathedral has bays without stained glass windows, closed only by white skylights," he wrote. "Installing stained-glass windows in these would not detract from the harmony intended by Viollet-le-Duc, and would enhance the cathedral."

"It would also have a magnificent symbolic role: it was in the north tower, when they fought the fire that threatened to bring down the bells and, in turn, the cathedral, that the firefighters risked their lives to save the monument," he added.

"Paying tribute to the firefighters, bringing new stained-glass windows to Notre Dame without vandalizing Viollet-le-Duc's work, giving future visitors more to see: this commonsense solution could suit everyone."

Attempts to modernize the medieval cathedral have repeatedly been met with pushback.

Shortly after the 2019 fire, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced an international competition to replace the iconic 19th century spire that had also been designed by Viollet-le-Duc and was destroyed.

Macron floated the idea of replacing the church's destroyed 19th century spire with something "contemporary," and one architecture firm proposed rebuilding it with glass and stainless steel, but the idea was poorly received by the public.

The new spire, which was installed last month, was ultimately rebuilt with carefully selected 200-year-old oaks as Viollet-le-Duc had originally designed it. It was officially completed on Dec. 16 with the installation of a new rooster weathervane, which replaced the one that was found amid the rubble when the previous spire collapsed.

The original rooster reportedly contained a fragment of the Crown of Thorns, as well as the remains of St. Denis and St. Geneviève, all of which were placed in the new rooster, according to CNN.

© The Christian Post