Notre Dame marks Good Friday with a handful of priests in hard hats

Notre Dame Cathedral marks Good Friday with just a handful of priests in hard hats one year after the building was nearly destroyed by fire

  • Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit declared ‘there is still life here’ one year on 
  • Restoration work at the world heritage site was also halted due to coronavirus
  • Prominent French actors Judith Chemla and Philippe Torreton did readings 

Priests wearing hard hats led a small Easter prayer ceremony at Notre Dame today, one year after a fire ripped through the French cathedral.

Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit declared ‘there is still life here,’ as he joined a handful of clerics and well-known actors in worship for Good Friday.    

For most of France, Easter celebrations have been effectively cancelled as part of last month’s ban on large gatherings to contain the spread of coronavirus. 

Restoration work at the world heritage site was also halted, adding to doubts about the government’s ambitious plans to rebuild the 13th-century landmark by 2024.

Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral’s rector Patrick Chauvet repositions the Crown of Thorns, a relic of the passion of Christ, after a ceremony to celebrate Good Friday

Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit (right, with Patrick Chauvet) declared ‘there is still life here,’ as he joined a handful of clerics in worship for Good Friday

From left: Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral’s rector Patrick Chauvet, Auxiliary Bishop of Paris Denis Jachiet and Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit listen to violinist Renaud Capucon

‘In this Holy Week, the entire world has been stunned by a pandemic that is spreading death and paralysing us,’ Aupetit said.

After a moment of silence before a crown of thorns, which many Christians believe was placed on Jesus’ head during his crucifixion, Aupetit offered thanks for the ‘global movement’ that followed the blaze to ensure the cathedral ‘is rebuilt and restored’.

Star French classical violinist Renaud Capucon – wearing a plastic suit and boots to protect against the toxic lead from the molten roof that still contaminates the site – then played Bach sonatas.

Prominent French actors Judith Chemla and Philippe Torreton – similary clad – also read texts from Mother Theresa, Paul Claudel and others.

Archbishop Aupetit speaks with violonist Renaud Capucon, actor Judith Chemla and actor Philippe Torreton after they performed at the ceremony

Restoration work at the world heritage site was also halted, adding to doubts about the government’s ambitious plans to rebuild the 13th-century landmark by 2024

The cathedral’s structure remains at risk as workers try to consolidate walls weakened by the collapse of the oak beams supporting the roof as well as the steeple, which were undergoing restoration when the fire broke out on April 15, 2019 (steeple and spire collapsing, pictured)

The cathedral’s structure remains at risk as workers try to consolidate walls weakened by the collapse of the oak beams supporting the roof as well as the steeple, which were undergoing restoration when the fire broke out on April 15, 2019.

They must still carefully remove a tangled web of molten steel scaffolding before being able to fully cover the gaping hole in the roof and protect the site from rain – an operation that was set for this spring before being halted by the coronavirus crisis.

France has recorded 118,790 cases and 12,228, according to Johns Hopkins university. 

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