The hidden face of Reims Cathedral: The smiling angel

The hidden face of Reims Cathedral: The smiling angel
The hidden face of Reims Cathedral: The smiling angel

With its extraordinary dimensions (6,650 square meters, 122 meters long), its 2,303 sculpted figures, Reims Cathedral remains one of the favorite monuments of the French. Some 1.5 million visitors flock there each year.

Entering the cathedral means passing under the “Smiling Angel”, or “Smile of Reims”, which sits on the north portal of the main façade.This smiling angel has a somewhat unusual history because it was destroyed in 1914, at the start of the First World War.“, explains Thierry Bettler, rector of Reims Cathedral.

“The smile of a Europe that wants to reconcile”

The Smiling Angel was one of the first sculptures to be damaged by bombing when German forces arrived.It was also the first to be restored, so the people of Reims immediately saw, through this smile, the smile of the city which was being reborn a little after these four years of occupation and bombings.“, adds Thierry Buttler.

And it is also the cathedral in which Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and President Charles de Gaulle came to celebrate and pray together to ask for the reconciliation of our two peoples and to pray for peace in Europe.“, says Thierry Buttler. A Franco-German reconciliation, sealed in Reims, on July 8, 1962.”I like to present it not simply as the smile of the city rising from its ruins, but also the smile of a Europe that wants to reconcile itself.“.

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