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 France into national mourning over the loss of priceless works of art and its 600-year-old architecture.
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.’
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.
Source: Daily Mail