Notre Dame Opens Its Doors For 1st Mass Since Devastating April Fire

On Saturday, the Notre Dame Cathedral will open its doors for the first time since a fire devastated the 850-year-old structure’s spire and much of its original woodworking.

ABC News reports the mass will only include 30 people, including clerks, participants, and members of the media and each person who attends the mass will be required to wear a hard hat for safety.

“Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit will deliver the mass, which will be televised live and streamed online, on June 15,” the report continues.

According to the report, the date is nearly symbolic as the consecration of the cathedral’s altar, “known as the feast of the Dedication of Our Lady, is normally celebrated annually on June 16.”

Here’s more:

On April 15, a blaze that took hours to extinguish tore through the 850-year-old building in the heart of France’s capital.

The fire was ignited during an evening mass at the start of Holy Week, the busiest and most important period of the liturgical year.

Millions mourned the extent of the destruction in the landmark of Gothic architecture, but miraculously, much of the relics and structure of the cathedral survived, including its famous rose windows.

On the evening of the blaze, rescuers were intent on saving the relics inside — including what Catholics believe is the crown of thorns that Jesus wore during the Passion — as well as Notre Dame’s great organ and its 8,000 pipes, along with the building itself.

And:

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Retired French Gen. Jean-Louis Georgelin was chosen by French President Emmanuel Macron to lead the cathedral’s restoration.

“Nothing is impossible to a French general,” Georgelin told ABC News’ David Muir in an exclusive interview, saying that he agrees with Macron that Notre Dame could reopen within five years. But, he said, “When there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Bloomberg reports construction and restoration workers have continued around the clock to allow for the cathedral’s first public mass since the fire. And, according to the report, most of the funding (90 percent) to rebuild and restore the historic structure has come from Americans:

The reality on the ground at Notre Dame is that work has been continuing around the clock for weeks and the cathedral has had to rely partly on the charity foundations to fund the first phase of reconstruction.

The Friends of Notre Dame de Paris was founded in 2017, and its president, Michel Picaud, estimates that 90% of the donations it has received have come from American donors. Indeed, Picaud just returned from a fundraising trip in New York.

“Americans are very generous toward Notre Dame and the monument is very loved in America. Six out of our 11 board members are residents in the U.S.,” Picaud said.

The first private check toward the rebuilding, according to Picaud, is being transferred by the foundations for 3.6 million euros ($4.1 million). That also includes funds from mainly small French donors, collected by the sister Notre Dame Foundation. The French state has also paid funds toward the massive consolidation operation.