The Notre Dame Cathedral will not be able to offer Christmas religious services for the first time since the French Revolution, due to the serious damage caused by fire this year.
Exiles, their clerics, choir and congregation planned to celebrate the holiday in another Gothic church near the Louvre Museum.
The accidental April fire destroyed the roof and spire of the medieval temple, and reconstruction is expected to take several years. The structure is too damaged to admit visitors and there is still a risk of poisoning by the tons of lead dust that the flames released, according to authorities.
Christmas and Christmas Eve services would be held in the church of Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois, used in its day by French royalty. The rector of Notre Dame, Monsignor Patrick Chauvet, would celebrate a Mass there on Wednesday for the parishioners of Notre Dame, accompanied by the now itinerant choir of the cathedral.
In the church of Saint-Germain a platform similar to that of Notre Dame was installed, and the emblematic Virgin of Paris was exhibited, a 14th-century sculpture that survived the flames.
The cathedral, internationally recognized, has attended many ups and downs since its first stone was laid in 1163. Religious services were interrupted after the revolutionaries overthrew the monarchy and declared That Notre Dame would be ”a temple of reason”. Religious activity resumed during Napoleon’s tenure in 1803, according to church leaders.
Masses continued during the two world wars and the Nazi occupation. In 2015, the Christmas mass was held under military surveillance, weeks after the worst terrorist attacks registered in France.
Today, the twin towers of Notre Dame continue to preside over the island of Ile de la Cite, in the heart of Paris and attract tourists who take pictures in their surroundings. But this Christmas, what lies before its facade are scaffolding, instead of the huge Christmas tree that usually presides over the esplanade.