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First Mass celebrated in Notre Dame since fire

PARIS (CNS): Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris said on June 15 that the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris could never be reduced to a cultural or “patrimonial good” as he celebrated the first Mass in the historic Gothic church since it was devastated by a huge blaze on April 15 (Sunday Examiner, April 21). The cathedral has been closed since then.
The Mass was celebrated in the Chapel of the Virgin to mark the anniversary of the consecration of the cathedral’s altar, an event that usually takes place on June 16 each year.
The archbishop along with 30 invited guests—mostly clergy, cathedral employees and building contractors—wore protective headgear because of the danger of falling masonry, although the Virgin chapel has been designated as safe.
In his homily, Archbishop Aupetit stressed the purpose of Notre Dame as a place of Christian worship and not an ornament of the secular state. He warned that if Jesus was removed as the cornerstone, it would collapse in a spiritual rather than a physical sense.
The cathedral would simply be an “empty shell, a jewelry box without riches, a skeleton without life, a body without a soul,” the archbishop said.
“The cathedral is born of the faith of our ancestors,” he said during the Mass, which was broadcast by KTO, a French Catholic television channel.
“This cathedral is born of the Christian hope, which perceives well beyond a small self-centred personal life to enter a magnificent project at the service of all, projecting well beyond a single generation.”
France’s minister for culture, Franck Riester, told French radio on June 14 that so far, just €80 million (701 million) of the €850 million ($7.45 billion) pledged has been received.

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