A+ A-

Notre Dame hosts first "symbolic" mass since April fire

PARIS, June 15 (KUNA) -- The devastated Notre Dame Cathedral hosted its first "symbolic" service here Saturday since the building was struck by a massive, accidental fire on April 15, causing huge damage and putting the cathedral out of commission for at least five years.
The service, which was broadcast live on KTO Catholic TV, gathered less than 30 people - mostly ecclesiastics - in one of the small chapels in the cathedral that was least damaged by April's blaze.
The fire, which melted the 19th century spire designed by Violet Le Duc, ravaged the roof and some masonry dating back 800 years and there is debris everywhere in the building.
In a very unusual occurrence, reflecting the perilous condition inside Notre Dame, the participants at today's mass were forced to wear building industry white "hard hats" to protect against any falling stone or debris.
The mass celebration was viewed as important because of the two-month anniversary of the fire, day-to-day, and also because it is the anniversary of the consecration of the cathedral's altar, which takes place on June 15, traditionally.
The service was attended by the Archbishop of Paris, Monsignor Michel Aupetit, who took up his post in January 2018, and by other senior members of the Catholic community.
Three journalists were also allowed to attend in order to transmit the service on KTO.
Some of the building workers at the cathedral were also invited to attend, as well as some donors to the rebuild fund.
In welcoming the small group, Aupeit said that the service "was to show that Notre Dame is still living." Separately, it was revealed Friday that while total pledges for the rebuilding fund rose above Euros 850 million (USD 1.11 Billion), only 10 percent of these had been paid up at this stage and only 80 million Euros was in the fund today.
Notre Dame, before the fire, was the most-visited religious and historic monument in Europe, with around 13 million visitors in 2018.
The service Saturday took place with high security around the building and the esplanade in front of the Cathedral was closed to the public, the Paris Prefecture said. (end) jk.gb