(Paris) On Saturday, the first Mass was celebrated in the ruined cathedral Notre Dame de Paris since the devastating fire of last April 15th. The celebrant was Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris, who celebrated it ad orientem (facing east).
Protected by helmets, the Archbishop and about 30 people entered the episcopal church of Paris, which together with the Eiffel Tower, is considered the most famous landmark of France, in contrast to this not only is it much older, but it also has a much deeper cultural and spiritual significance.
"The fire that destroyed the building on April 15 sparked a wave of emotions, not just among the faithful," said Archbishop Aupetit.
Secured statue of Mary in Notre-Dame.
With him, the church rector, Msgr. Patrick Chauvet, canons, volunteers, diocesan staff and construction workers came to the cathedral, who took a break from working to stabilize the roofless masonry. In total, there were about 30 people attending the Mass.
For security reasons, access was not allowed to other believers. The Catholic TV station KTO transmitted the celebration directly. It took place on the dedication day of the altar of the cathedral, a "highly spiritual" date, says Msgr. Chauvet.
The celebration took place in the Mary chapel in the outer ambulatory of the sanctuary, where the crown of thorns was kept until the fire. It had been rescued from the flames by the brave chaplain of the Paris Fire Department, Jean-Marc Fournier, a priest close to tradition, along with the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Crown of thorns in the Marienkapelle before the fire.
Since the devastating fire, the cause of which remains unclear, between 60 and 150 workers work to secure the cathedral. Even while the cathedral was in flames, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that it would be rebuilt within five years. For now, we are working feverishly on securing the stock. It should first and foremost be started with the planning of the reconstruction. The French Senate, the upper house of legislation, recently voted in favor of the faithful reconstruction, rejecting architectural experiments or misappropriation.
Of the 850 million euros in donations promised in the course of the fire, only nine percent have been paid.
The media reports hardly mention it, but the KTO transmission shows that Archbishop Aupetit celebrated ad
orientem in the reliquary chapel in the Novus Ordo. The reason: there is no people’s altar in the Mary chapel. [Isn’t ironic that the Cramner table of the NO was something imposed on the people?]
Cardinal Robert Sarah, the Prefect of the Roman Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, has been recommending to all priests since 2016 to rediscover and resume this celebration, which was common until the liturgical reform of 1969/1970.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: KTO / Giuseppe Nardi
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