Paris’ Charred Notre Dame to Miss First Christmas Mass in More Than Two Centuries

© AP Photo / Thibault CamusFlames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019
Flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019 - Sputnik International
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The Notre Dame Cathedral, one of Paris’ most widely recognized landmarks, will not be hosting its annual Christmas Mass this year due to the massive fire that engulfed the UNESCO World Heritage site back in April.

“This is the first time since the French Revolution that there will be no midnight Mass [at Notre Dame],” cathedral rector Patrick Chauvet is quoted as telling the Associated Press. Following the French Revolution in 1789, Notre Dame was made public property by anti-Catholic revolutionaries.

“We have the opportunity to celebrate the mass outside the walls, so to speak ... but with some indicators that Notre Dame is connected to us,” Chauvet added, noting that a service will take place at the nearby Roman Catholic Church of Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois.

The iconic cathedral is currently undergoing reconstruction after an April 15 fire caused the collapse of its spire and the partial destruction of its roof structure; it is expected to take several years to reconstruct the church. The fire is believed to have started accidentally during renovation work underway inside the cathedral. 

Built between the 12th and 14th centuries, Notre Dame has been the site of royal marriages, coronations and farewell ceremonies for prominent French officials over many centuries, and is a prime example of French gothic architecture.

Following the fire, France’s three wealthiest families, Arnault, Pinault and Bettencourt, who own conglomerate companies LVMH Group, Kering and L'Oreal, respectively, pledged a combined $565 million as part of a fundraising effort to rebuild Notre Dame. In addition, French oil and gas company Total has promised $113 million, while consulting firm Capgemini furnished over $1.1 million.

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