Worshippers in hard hats arrive at fire-ravaged Notre Dame for the cathedral’s first mass since blaze destroyed it’s roof and spire

  • The cathedral holds its first mass this evening since the ferocious inferno which stunned the world on April 15
  • Paris archbishop Michel Aupetit is leading the service with a reduced congregation for security reasons
  • Just 30 congregants, including priests, canons and reconstruction workers are attending the side chapel 
  • Clerics are wearing hardhats for safety reasons as restoration works continue on the scorched church

Notre Dame is holding its first mass since the inferno destroyed the cathedral’s roof and spire, with the Paris archbishop donning a hardhat instead of a mitre.  

Saturday’s mass at the Gothic building is being led by archbishop Michel Aupetit amid reduced attendance for security reasons.

Around 30 congregants, including priests, canons and a number of workers taking part in the church’s reconstruction, have been admitted. 

The world watched in horror as the blaze tore through Notre Dame on April 15, plunging France into national mourning over the loss of priceless works of art and its 600-year-old architecture. 

Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit dons a hardhat instead of the traditional mitre as other members of clergy stand in cassocks and construction helmets to worship in Saturday’s mass – the first since the inferno swept through the church two months ago

People look at a mobile phone as they watch a live feed of the first mass inside a side chapel of the cathedral – only 30 congregants were admitted to the church for security reasons

The cathedral seen today where construction work continues to try and rebuild the decimated roof – members of the reconstruction team have been invited to worship at tonight’s mass

Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit, leads the first mass in a side chapel two months to the day after a devastating fire engulfed the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral

Worshippers have not been authorised in the cathedral but can watch the mass on a Catholic TV station that is broadcasting the service. 

Church leaders are keen to show life goes on as donations to help rebuild it continues to trickle in.

Less than 10% of the 850 million euros pledged by billionaires, business leaders and others has been received so far, the French government said.

Saturday’s mass, which commemorates the cathedral’s consecration as a place of worship, is due to be held at 5pm local time in a side-chapel.

A man holds his smartphone aloft as a live feed of the mass is beamed out around the world, as more worshippers could not be admitted for security reasons

A woman holds her phone for others to watch the service not far from the cathedral in Paris on Saturday evening

‘It is a nice symbol. A very small group of people will attend and one can understand why as there are still major safety issues,’ Culture Minister Franck Riester told Europe 1 radio.

He told France 2 television on Friday the cathedral was still ‘in a fragile state, namely the vault, which has not yet been secured. It can still collapse’.

The blaze caused the roof and spire of the architectural masterpiece to collapse, triggering multi-million-euro pledges for reconstruction work, after thousands wept outside the smoldering symbol of France.

Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit (centre) arrives with an assistant holding hardhats to lead the first mass since the blaze which stunned the world and Paris on April 15

Notre Dame cathedral’s rector Patrick Chauvet (left) greets people arriving for the first mass since the fire two months ago in Paris

The Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit, leads the first mass in a side chapel (left) and a clergyman wearing a hard hat, gives an interview prior to entering (right)

Among the high-profile people who promised to donate to the rebuilding effort were luxury goods tycoons Bernard Arnault and Francois-Henri Pinault.

‘There could be people who promised to donate then in the end did not,’ Riester said, without giving further details. ‘But more importantly, and this is normal, the donations will be paid as restoration work progresses.’

French President Emmanuel Macron has set a target of five years for restoring the cathedral, though Riester was more cautious.

‘The president was right to give a target, an ambition. But obviously what matters in the end is the quality of the work,’ he said. ‘So it does not mean that work will be totally finished in exactly five years.’

The world watched in horror as priceless works of art and centuries old architecture was ruined in the inferno on April 15

Hardhats are laid out on a table for the use of the clergy and members of the reconstruction team who will take part in the mass

The diocese is awaiting a response from the French authorities over whether it can re-open the parvis – the open space in front of the cathedral – to the public.

If the authorities approve the plan, the idea is to celebrate the evening prayers on the parvis, the diocese said.

A temporary structure could be erected there to host worshippers while the cathedral is rebuilt. 

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