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Post-Fire, No Christmas Midnight Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral

(Photo: Dustin Etheridge)

The Tablet Staff

For the first time in over two centuries, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris won’t be celebrating midnight Mass on Christmas.  

After a fire tore through the 855-year-old global landmark in April, engulfing its roof and iconic spire, the holiday service will be moved to Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois, a nearby church in Paris that has been welcoming parishioners from Notre Dame since September.

“This is the first time since the French Revolution that there will be no midnight Mass,” cathedral rector Msgr. Patrick Chauvet told the Associated Press

At Saint-Germain, preparations have been underway for Christmas Eve with the assembly of a wooden liturgical platform in the likeness of Notre Dame’s own. “The Virgin of Paris” — which according to legend is the statute Notre Dame is named after — is also on display at the church. 

“At the time of the fire, the vault of the cathedral completely crashed,” Msgr. Chauvet said. “There were stones everywhere, but she was spared. She could have naturally received the vault on her head and have been completely crushed.

“We have the opportunity to celebrate the Mass outside the walls, so to speak … but with some indicators that Notre Dame is connected to us.” 

The fire also prompted a move for Notre Dame’s 160-person choir, who traditionally join together on Christmas Eve to sing at Mass. This year, their voices will ring out in the annex of Saint-Germain.

According to French President Emmanuel Macron, reparation of the gothic cathedral — which hosts close to 1,000 services a year — can be completed within the next five years, a timeline being viewed as ambitious. 

Despite the construction, Notre Dame remains a symbol of hope and faith, so long as the bishop’s seat remains. “The cathedra is at the cathedral and so it remains Notre Dame Cathedral, which is the cathedral in the heart of Paris,” Msgr. Chauvet said. 

While the interior of the cathedral is closed to the public, its exterior has been illuminated each evening since November, a sign that the spirit of Notre Dame will continue regardless of circumstance.

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