One year after devastating fire, Notre-Dame holds Good Friday service despite lockdown

'We wanted to send a message of hope,' says Archbishop Michel Aupetit

Kate Ng
Friday 10 April 2020 14:21
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Tiny Good Friday service held in Notre-Dame Cathedral for first time since 2019 fire

The Notre-Dame Cathedral has come back to life again for the first time since a huge fire gutted the beloved landmark for a small Good Friday ceremony amid the coronavirus lockdown.

The cathedral is still closed to the public due to the lockdown as well as the structural instability of the burned building, but a small handful of clergymen took part in prayers, readings and music on Friday morning.

Archbishop Michel Aupetit venerated a crown of thorns that survived the blaze on 15 April 2019, which brought down the centuries-old cathedral’s roof and spire.

“We wanted to send a message of hope,” said the archbishop.

The ceremony, which was broadcast on French-language Catholic television channel KTO TV for those observing Good Friday, included readings of text by authors such as Mother Teresa, Marie-Noël, Paul Claudel and Charles Peguy.

French classical violinist Renaud Capuçon performed several pieces of music during the ceremony.

Restoration of the Notre-Dame was stopped ahead of the lockdown in France, which began on 17 March. Around 67 million people are under strict rules to stay at home and stick to social distancing guidelines.

President Emmanuel Macron promised the Notre-Dame will be rebuilt by 2024 the day after the fire scorched and destroyed huge parts of it.

On Easter Sunday, Archbishope Aupetit will hold a small mass in Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois church in Paris, located near the Louvre museum.

The Sunday mass will be attended by just 20 people, reported Reuters. Last Easter Sunday, hundreds of people gathered at the same church to pray for the Notre-Dame to be restored quickly.

Around the world, churches are adapting services over Easter weekend to allow people to watch them via livestream or radio.

In St Peter’s Square, where a wooden cross was carried in a procession during an early 16th century plague is on display, Pope Francis will lead a ceremony with no audience at 6pm.

Elsewhere, in Jerusalem, a small group of clerics will hold a service behind closed doors at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre before walking the Via Dolorosa.

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