Europe

Notre-Dame Cathedral to miss first Christmas Mass in two centuries

Work continues to stabilise the cathedral's structure nine months after a fire caused significant damage, in Paris, France, December 18, 2019 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Cranes and scaffolding surround Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris

Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris will not hold a Christmas Mass for the first time in more than 200 years, as repair work continues following April's fire.

Midnight Mass will still be celebrated on Christmas Eve, officials said, but it will take place at the nearby church of Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois.

The 850-year-old Gothic cathedral, a Unesco World Heritage site, lost its spire and roof during the blaze.

President Emmanuel Macron has set a five-year goal for its reconstruction.

In October, the French culture ministry said nearly €1bn (£850m; $1.1bn) had been raised or pledged for the work.

The iconic building has celebrated Christmas Mass through two centuries of often turbulent history, only closing during the French revolution when anti-Catholic forces turned it briefly into "a temple of reason".

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Media captionThe moment Notre-Dame’s spire fell

Cathedral rector Patrick Chauvet told the Associated Press that this year's service at Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois would include a wooden liturgical platform that has been made to resemble the one at the cathedral.

"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," he said.

The cathedral had been undergoing restoration work when the devastating blaze broke out earlier this year.

The cause of the fire remains unknown, but investigators are probing the possibility of negligence.

A "badly stubbed out cigarette" or electrical fault are among the possible causes being considered.

No evidence has been found to suggest any criminal origin to the fire, officials have said.

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