Notre Dame celebrates 1st Mass since devastating April fire

The Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral's rector Patrick Chauvet, speaks during the first mass in a side chapel two months to the day after a devastating fire engulfed the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral on June 15, 2019, in Paris. - The Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris will host its first mass on June 15, 2019, exactly two months after the devastating blaze that shocked France and the world. For safety reasons, the mass led by Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit will be celebrated on a very small scale. Worshippers will be expected to don hard hats but priests will be wearing their ceremonial garb. (Photo credit by KARINE PERRET/AFP/Getty Images)

PARIS — The Notre Dame cathedral in Paris held its first Mass on Saturday since the April 15th fire that ravaged the edifice’s roof and caused its masterpiece spire to collapse.

Exactly two months after the devastating blaze engulfed the Gothic building, the service for a small audience was celebrated by Paris archbishop Michel Aupetit in a chapel located behind the choir, a place confirmed as safe.

Culture minister Franck Riester said this week the cathedral remains in a “fragile” state, especially the vault, which is still at risk of collapsing.

For security reasons, only about 30 people — mainly priests, canons and church employees — were admitted inside the cathedral, while Aupetit and others wore construction worker’s helmets. Some of the workers hired to rebuild the church were also invited.

Other worshippers were able to watch the Mass on a Catholic TV station that broadcast the service live.

The annual Dedication Mass commemorated the cathedral’s consecration as a place of worship.

“This cathedral is a place of worship, it is its very own and unique and unique purpose,” Aupetit said.

It is still unclear when the cathedral will reopen to the public.

French President Emmanuel Macron has set a goal of rebuilding it in just five years, which many experts consider unrealistic. In the meantime, the French parliament is debating amendments to a new law that would create a public body to expedite the restoration of the cathedral and circumvent some of France’s complex labor laws.

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