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16.06.2019 Europe

Symbolic mass celebrated at Notre-Dame two months after fire

JUN 16, 2019 EUROPE

The Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris hosted its first mass on Saturday evening, exactly two months after a devastating blaze, with priests and worshippers wearing hard hats to protect themselves against possible falling debris.

Dressed in a white robe and helmet, Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit led the service, which was attended by just some 30 people, half of them clergy.

"The fire, which ravaged the building on April 15, has provoked a wave of emotion, not only for the community of believers," Archbishop Aupetit said in his sermon, broadcast live on Catholic television channel KTO.

"This cathedral is a place of worship, that's its true and unique purpose."

The mass started at 6:00 pm (1600 GMT) in the Chapel of the Virgin on the east side of the cathedral, confirmed to be safe.

Watch here a clip (in French) of the ceremony.
"The cathedral is born in the faith of our forefathers. It shows their confidence in the goodness of Christ, His love is stronger than hate," wrote the Archbishop in his homily.

"It's an event which each person feels deeply because we are still surrounded by bits of charcoal on the ground," said Christophe Rousselot, director of the Notre-Dame Foundation, speaking to France Info.

Protective nets have been strung above the nave and choir and rubble still strews the floor but the pews have remained intact.

Aupetit was joined by the rector of Notre-Dame, Patrick Chauvet, other clergy, volunteers, people working on the restoration as well a handful of lay worshippers.

The date was chosen as it is the anniversary of the consecration of the cathedral's altar, which is celebrated every year on June 16.

(with AFP)