The Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris hosted its first mass on Saturday exactly two months after a devastating blaze, with priests and worshippers wearing hard hats to protect themselves against possible falling debris.
Dressed in a white robe and helmet, Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit led the service, which was attended by just some 30 people — half of them clergy.
“The fire, which ravaged the building on April 15, has provoked a wave of emotion, not only for the community of believers,” Archbishop Aupetit said in his sermon, broadcast live
“This cathedral is a place of worship, that’s its true and unique purpose.”
The mass started at 6:00 pm (1600 GMT) in the Chapel of the Virgin on the east side of the cathedral, confirmed to be safe.
Protective nets have been strung above the nave and choir and rubble still strews the floor but the pews have remained intact.
Aupetit was joined by the rector of Notre-Dame, Patrick Chauvet, other clergy, volunteers, people working on the restoration as well a handful of lay worshippers.
The date was chosen as it is the anniversary of the consecration of the cathedral’s altar, which is celebrated every year on June 16.
The date is “highly significant, spiritually,” Chauvet had told AFP ahead of the service, adding he was happy to be able to show that “Notre-Dame is truly alive”.