More details about Saturday’s Mass at Notre Dame, the first since the fire:
Saturday’s mass, two months after fire destroyed the roof of the 850-year-old landmark, will be held in a side-chapel and limited to about 20 people “for obvious security reasons”, the diocese said.
In attendance will be mainly priests and canons, but not members of the parish. The priests and religious representatives will all have to wear hard hats. Led by the archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, the service will be broadcast live on a religious TV channel.
The cathedral and the square in front of it are closed to the public as a lengthy operation gets under way to make the weakened structure safe. The French culture minister, Franck Riester, said on Friday the cathedral was still “in a fragile state, namely the vault, which hasn’t yet been secured”.The Paris authorities are continuing to clean the cathedral square and surrounding areas after finding high lead levels on the ground surrounding the cathedral. Environmental campaigners have warned of potential environmental pollution from the hundreds of tons of lead in the cathedral spire and roof, which melted in the extreme heat of the fire.
Health authorities have urged children and pregnant women living around the cathedral to have the levels of lead in their blood checked amid concerns about the impact of the fire.
The diocese would like to see the square in front of the cathedral reopened and to begin celebrating evening prayers there. One option could be to build a temporary structure for worship on the square. But authorities have not yet ruled the area safe for the public.