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Damaged but not destroyed, Notre Dame Cathedral to hold its first mass since fire

The diocese also plans to consecrate the altar inside the damaged church

BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images

Nearly two months after a fire destroyed much of its roof, France's iconic Notre Dame Cathedral is set to hold its first mass since the disaster.

What's the background?

On April 15, the roof of the cathedral that dates back to the mid-12th century erupted into flames. The cathedral's spire collapsed, as did its wooden roof with ribbed vaulting. The inner stone vault ceiling of the building prevented the interior from being completely destroyed.

Investigators are still not sure exactly what the cause of the fire was, but police think it may have been caused by faulty wiring.

The church's most precious relics, including what is believed to be the crown of thorns worn by Jesus at his crucifixion and the tunic of Saint Louis (France's King Louis IX) were saved by the heroic actions of a priest.

French President Emmanuel Macron has said that he would like to see the entire cathedral restored in just five years.

What happened now?

On June 11, the Diocese of Paris announced that Archbishop Michel Aupetit would celebrate mass Saturday, June 15, in a "side chapel with a restricted number of people, for obvious security reasons." Despite attendance being limited to around 20 people, many of whom will be priests and other church officials, the mass will be broadcast live on French television.

At this mass, the diocese plans to consecrate the church's altar. While the interior of the building was filled with rubble, the altar and its gold cross escaped being damaged beyond repair. June 16 has been celebrated annually at the cathedral as the anniversary of the altar's initial consecration.

Church leaders are also in discussion with French authorities about reopening the "parvis," or the square in front of the church. If they are permitted to do so, they will hold evening prayers there.

One last thing…
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