Hard-hats de rigueur at Notre Dame’s first Mass

Everyone sported hard hats at the first mass at Notre Dame since fire broke out beneath its roof on 15 April.

The archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, led the service which was held in an undamaged side-chapel behind the choir.

Saturday – the day the mass was celebrated – is the anniversary of the church altar’s consecration.

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

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

Father Pierre Vivares, who was at the mass, said it was “a true happiness, full of hope.

“We will rebuild this cathedral. It will take time of course — a lot of money, a lot of time, a lot of work — but we will succeed,” he said.

“Today it’s a small, but a true victory against the disaster we have had.”

French Culture Minister Franck Riester says the cathedral remains in a “fragile” state, especially its vaulted ceiling, which is still at risk of collapsing.

For security reasons, only about 30 people — mainly priests, canons and church employees — were at the service. Some of the workers rebuilding the church were also invited.

Other worshippers could watch the Mass live on a Catholic TV station.

The video showed some burnt wood still in the church but a famous statue of the Virgin and Child appeared intact behind wooden construction planks.

It is still not known when the cathedral will reopen to the public.

Right now though, less than 10 per cent of the nearly €1 billion (£892m) pledged for reconstruction has been paid.

There are also several issues being discussed and debated.

Arguments have arisen over whether the cathedral should be rebuilt exactly as it was or with contemporary touches.

President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to hold an international contest to select designs from the world’s leading architects is controversial in France, with some contending that it should be left to French architects.

André Finot, the cathedral spokesman, says donors “want to know exactly what their money will be used for and if they agree to it before they hand it over”.

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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