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Heavy hearts as Notre-Dame misses Xmas mass for first time since 1803

/ 08:09 PM December 25, 2019
Heavy hearts as Notre-Dame misses Xmas mass for first time since 1803

This 1911, file photo shows the Notre Dame Cathedral, on the island called Ile de la Cite in Paris. Art experts around the world reacted with horror to news of the fire that ravaged cathedral on Monday, April 15, 2019. One shell-shocked art expert is calling the beloved Gothic masterpiece “one of the great monuments to the best of civilization.” For the first time in over 200 years, the Notre Damd Cathedral was unable to hold  Christmas Eve Mass on Tuesday, December 24, 2019. (AP File Photo)

PARIS — Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris was unable to hold Christmas Eve Mass for the first time in more than 200 years – after a fire ravaged its structure in April.

With heavy hearts, French Catholics instead gathered at the nearby church of Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois, a few hundred meters away, for a service celebrated by the cathedral’s rector Patrick Chauvet.

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“It isn’t the same feeling but it’s still a Christmas Mass,” said 16-year-old Juliette, who had made the 700-kilometer trip from Aix with her family. “There will be a thought for Notre-Dame tonight, that’s for sure.”

“We have been crying since April 15, and today even more,” said Danielle, a Parisian, who attended last year’s mass at the Paris landmark. However, she was lifted by the choir of Notre-Dame, who performed at the mass.

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Meanwhile, workers continue to repair and rebuild the cherished cathedral.

Notre-Dame, part of a UNESCO world heritage site on the banks of the River Seine lost its gothic spire, roof and many precious artifacts in the fire, which was watched by huge crowds.

The building had remained open for Christmas through two centuries of often tumultuous history — including the Nazi occupation in World War II – being forced to close only during the anti-Catholic revolutionary period in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

President Emmanuel Macron has set a timetable of five years to completely repair the eight-centuries-old structure, which remains shrouded in scaffolding with a vast crane looming over it.

Paris prosecutors suspect criminal negligence and opened an investigation in June, suggesting a stray cigarette butt or an electrical fault could be the culprit.

The culture ministry said in October that nearly one billion euros ($1.1 billion) had been pledged or raised for the reconstruction.

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TAGS: Christmas, Christmas Eve Mass, Church, Fire, France, International news, news, Unesco, world, World Heritage Site, world news
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