Notre Dame Cathedral celebrates first mass since devastating fire

Notre Dame Cathedral celebrates first mass since devastating fire

Church leaders are keen to show life goes on at the cathedral as donations for rebuilding trickle in.

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.

Two months after a fire engulfed the building in Paris, the service was celebrated by Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit on Saturday in a chapel behind the choir, a place confirmed by construction experts as safe.

Saturday's mass, which commemorates the cathedral's consecration as a place of worship, is due to be held at 5pm local time in a side-chapel.

The April 15 blaze destroyed the 90-meter spire and most of the roof of the Gothic masterpiece.

French Culture Minister Franck Riester said this week the cathedral remains in a "fragile" state, especially its vaulted ceiling, which is still at risk of collapsing.

While the billionaire donors delay signing their checks, the workers at the cathedral face the epic task of cleaning up the lead poisoning that has become an issue for the Parisian island on which Notre Dame is located.

"This cathedral is a place of worship, it is its very own and unique goal", Mr Aupetit said.

The archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit will lead Saturday's service, which will be broadcast live on a religious TV channel. "It is a message of hope and thanks to all those who were moved by what happened to this cathedral".

Pledges of some 850 million euros ($960 million) had been made from prominent French businessmen and ordinary citizens but only around 10 percent has been donated so far.

'There could be people who promised to donate then in the end did not, ' Riester said, without giving further details.

French President Emmanuel Macron's timeline to rebuild Notre Dame, which dates back to around 1260 but has been modified, is five years, though Riester said that perhaps it may take longer.

"The president was right to give a target, an ambition", he said. But obviously what matters in the end is the quality of the work, ' he said. "So it does not mean that work will be totally finished in exactly five years".

This comes as the French parliament is slowly passing back and forth amendments to a new law that would create a "public body" to expedite the restoration of the cathedral and circumvent some of the country's famously complex labor laws.

It has not been decided if the cathedral's spire will be rebuilt as before, or if modern flourishes will be added, the New York Times reports.

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