Notre Dame held its first mass since the inferno destroyed the cathedral’s roof and spire, with the Paris archbishop donning a hardhat instead of a mitre.
Saturday’s mass at the Gothic building was led by archbishop Michel Aupetit amid reduced attendance for security reasons.
Around 30 congregants, including priests, canons and a number of workers taking part in the church’s reconstruction, were admitted.
The world watched in horror as the blaze tore through Notre Dame on April 15, plunging
Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit dons a hardhat instead of the traditional mitre as other members of clergy stand in cassocks and construction helmets to worship in Saturday’s mass – the first since the inferno swept through the church two months ago
People look at a mobile phone as they watch a live feed of the first mass inside a side chapel of the cathedral – only 30 congregants were admitted to the church for security reasons
The cathedral seen today where construction work continues to try and rebuild the decimated roof – members of the reconstruction team have been invited to worship at tonight’s mass
Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit, leads the first mass in a side chapel two months to the day after a devastating fire engulfed the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral
Worshippers were not authorised in the cathedral but watched the mass on a Catholic TV station that is broadcasting the service.
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.
The annual Dedication Mass commemorated the cathedral’s consecration as a place of worship and was held in a small side chapel at around 5pm local time.
‘This cathedral is a place of worship, it is its very own and unique purpose,’ Aupetit said.
One French priest called the service ‘a true happiness, full of hope.’
‘We will rebuild this cathedral. It will take time of course – a lot of money, lot of time, lot of work – but we will succeed,’ Father Pierre Vivares told The Associated Press outside the cathedral. ‘Today it’s a small but a true victory against the disaster we have had.’
A man holds his smartphone aloft as a live feed of the mass is beamed out around the world, as more worshippers could not be admitted for security reasons
A woman holds her phone for others to watch the service not far from the cathedral in Paris on Saturday evening
Church leaders are keen to show life goes on as donations to help rebuild it continues to trickle in.
Less than 10% of the 850 million euros pledged by billionaires, business leaders and others has been received so far, the French government said.
‘It is a nice symbol. A very small group of people will attend and one can understand why as there are still major safety issues,’ Culture Minister Franck Riester told Europe 1 radio.
He told France 2 television on Friday the cathedral was still ‘in a fragile state, namely the vault, which has not yet been secured. It can still collapse’.
The blaze caused the roof and spire of the architectural masterpiece to collapse, triggering multi-million-euro pledges for reconstruction work, after thousands wept outside the smouldering symbol of France.
Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit (centre) arrives with an assistant holding hardhats to lead the first mass since the blaze which stunned the world and Paris on April 15
Notre Dame cathedral’s rector Patrick Chauvet (left) greets people arriving for the first mass since the fire two months ago in Paris
The Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit, leads the first mass in a side chapel (left) and a clergyman wearing a hard hat, gives an interview prior to entering (right)
Among the high-profile people who promised to donate to the rebuilding effort were luxury goods tycoons Bernard Arnault and Francois-Henri Pinault.
‘There could be people who promised to donate then in the end did not,’ Riester said, without giving further details. ‘But more importantly, and this is normal, the donations will be paid as restoration work progresses.’
French President Emmanuel Macron has set a target of five years for restoring the cathedral, though Riester was more cautious.
‘The president was right to give a target, an ambition. But obviously what matters in the end is the quality of the work,’ he said. ‘So it does not mean that work will be totally finished in exactly five years.’
The world watched in horror as priceless works of art and centuries old architecture was ruined in the inferno on April 15
Hardhats are laid out on a table for the use of the clergy and members of the reconstruction team who will take part in the mass
The diocese is awaiting a response from the French authorities over whether it can re-open the parvis – the open space in front of the cathedral – to the public.
If the authorities approve the plan, the idea is to celebrate the evening prayers on the parvis, the diocese said.
A temporary structure could be erected there to host worshippers while the cathedral is rebuilt.