News & Opinion | June 17, 2019 11:00 am

First Mass Held at Notre-Dame Cathedral Since Devastating Fire

The archbishop of Paris wore a white, hard hat instead of his traditional miter

The Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit leads the first mass held at the Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral. (Karine Perret/ AFP/ Getty)
AFP/Getty Images

The Notre-Dame Cathedral held its first mass on Saturday after a fire burned through its famed roof and iconic spire exactly two months ago to the day.

The service was small with only about 30 total people allowed into the building. One more out of the ordinary feature of the typically grand Parisian church’s mass: the archbishop of Paris wore a white, hard hat instead of his traditional miter, NPR reported.

The mass was closed to the public for security and safety reasons — each attendee was required to wear a safety hat as well — so the archbishop was joined by fellow clergy members and people working on the site. The church itself is still in a “fragile state,” according to France’s Culture Minister Franck Riester, and the partially damaged vault, in particular, is not fully secured and could possibly still collapse.

Rehabilitation teams are currently using robots to remove some debris from such delicate and unsound areas of the cathedral and until it is all cleared away, the vault will not be able to be fully inspected. It is known, however, and proclaimed as rather “miraculous,” as deputy director at the Research Laboratory of Historic Monuments, Thierry Zimmer, put it, that none of the process art inside the church was ruined.

Archbishop Michel Aupetit said in his homily that the more than 850-year-old structure is “the fruit of human genius, a masterpiece of man,” that is appreciated by all humankind, not just the world’s Catholics and Christians.

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