THE bells will toll for fire-ravaged Notre Dame at St David's Cathedral tomorrow evening, April 18.

The Archbishop of Wales John Davies has joined with the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to encourage all cathedrals and churches across Wales to toll a bell for seven minutes at around 7pm this Thursday, Maundy Thursday, as a simple sign of both sorrow for and solidarity with the people of France and, particularly, the cathedral community at Notre Dame following Monday’s devastating fire.

The Archbishop, John Davies, said: “The tolling of bells has, for generations, been a sign of mourning for the loss of someone precious and, although Notre Dame is a building, there is also a sense in which it is a vital part of the very heartbeat of Paris.

“The damage and destruction suffered to this holy and iconic site is something, therefore, which it feels quite proper for us to mourn. In doing so, we will also be expressing our hope that, from the ashes, will rise a building restored and renewed for its life’s purpose, to proclaim to the world the Good News of Christ.”

This initiative has been suggested by the British Ambassador to France, Edward Llewellyn, and it is hoped that many will take part.

Among the many churches taking part in Wales are St David's Cathedral and Brecon Cathedral.

John Davies said: "Church buildings, great or small, ancient or modern, are the family homes of the Christian faithful in which they are nourished by the sacraments of our faith and in which they hear the words of scripture illuminated.

"Here, too, both those of faith or none, simply seeking tranquillity and peace of mind, frequently express, in words or silent reflection some of their deepest and most sincere longings and hopes, joys and sorrows. This has been so for generations.

"These buildings have special resonances in the lives of those who make up the communities in which they are set, and are part of their very identity. They silently connect those communities to something better and greater than the present. Although they are sometimes places where either great skill or plain simplicity in art, music, architecture and engineering are to be found, they remain, before and above all else, places where the grace and truth of Jesus Christ are proclaimed.

"When such places are desecrated or destroyed, the soul of these communities is harmed. People in parts of our own nation will understand the sense of loss, bereavement and bewilderment which they might feel were their places, the holy sites which they treasure, revere and love to suffer.

"Having been a parish priest for 24 years, part of that time as a Cathedral Dean, I can scarcely imagine how the destruction of so much Notre Dame de Paris will impact on the soul of the people of both Paris and France and beyond. An icon of faith, a symbol of Christ’s love and presence among them has, in this most holy week of the Christian year, been fatally wounded.

"But 850 years of faith, connection and history cannot be destroyed by one of earth’s elements, fire.

"In signalling my profound sorrow to my brothers and sisters of the community of Notre Dame, I express the hope that, from the ashes of this wonderful building, there will emerge a renewal of souls and a refreshed determination to proclaim the new life of the Gospel of the Risen Christ whilst mourning the loss of so much earthly treasure."