Notre Dame Cathedral not hosting Christmas services for first time since French Revolution

24 December 2019, 12:28

The iconic Cathedral was gutted by fire in April
The iconic Cathedral was gutted by fire in April. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Notre Dame Cathedral will not be hosting Christmas services for the first time since the French Revolution after it was gutted by fire.

Its exiled clergy, choir and congregation are celebrating the festive season in another Gothic church next to the Louvre Museum instead.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services will be held in the Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois church, once used for French royalty.

Notre Dame's rector, Monsignor Patrick Chauvet, will celebrate Mass there on Wednesday for the Paris landmark’s faithful, accompanied by song from some of Notre Dame's choir.

A huge blaze engulfed the iconic landmark
A huge blaze engulfed the iconic landmark. Picture: PA

April’s blaze consumed the medieval monument's roof and collapsed its spire, and reconstruction is expected to take several years.

Officials say the structure is too fragile to let visitors inside, and there is still a risk of poisoning from the tons of lead dust released with the flames.

The world-renowned cathedral has seen plenty of upheaval since its first stone was laid in 1163.

It halted services after revolutionaries overthrew the monarchy and declared Notre Dame "a temple of reason", but resumed religious activities under Napoleon in 1803, according to cathedral officials.

Officials say the structure is too fragile to let visitors inside
Officials say the structure is too fragile to let visitors inside. Picture: PA

It kept going during two world wars, and Nazi occupation. Soldiers guarded its Christmas Mass in 2015, weeks after France's deadliest-ever terror attacks.

Today, Notre Dame's twin towers still look over the Ile de la Cite island at the heart of Paris, attracting tourists taking selfies along the surrounding quays.

But this festive season, its facade is shielded by scaffolding instead of the huge Christmas tree that normally graces its esplanade.

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