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Worshippers don hard hats for first Notre-Dame mass since devastating fire

Karine Perret, AFP | The 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 on June 15, 2019.

The Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris hosted its first mass on Saturday exactly two months after a devastating blaze that shocked the world, with priests and worshippers wearing hard hats to protect themselves against possible falling debris.

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The service was celebrated by Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit in a chapel behind the choir, a place confirmed by construction experts as safe.

For security reasons, only about 30 people – mainly priests, canons and church employees – were admitted inside the cathedral for the service, while Aupetit and others wore construction workers' helmets. Some of the workers rebuilding the church were also invited.

The date was chosen as it is the anniversary of the consecration of the cathedral's altar, which is celebrated every year on June 16.

The date is "highly significant, spiritually", cathedral rector Patrick Chauvet told AFP, adding he was happy to be able to show that "Notre-Dame is truly alive".

Other worshippers could watch the mass live on a Catholic TV station. The video showed some burnt wood still in the church but a famous statue of the Virgin and Child appeared intact behind wooden construction planks.

It is still unclear when the cathedral will reopen to the public.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and AP)

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