For the first time in more than two centuries, there will be no Christmas Mass at Notre Dame cathedral – a tradition that’s endured since 1803 has fallen victim to the devastating fire in April.
A song of praise, tinged with sadness.
Notre Dame choir singers have been rehearsing at a nearby church after the Gothic cathedral was nearly destroyed in the enormous fire. They say they still find it hard to believe they won’t be performing Christmas Mass there this year.
“To think that I was ill last Christmas and I missed Christmas at Notre Dame thinking that I would go again this year with no problem,” said choir member Mathilde Ortscheidt. “No, I can’t believe I’m not going to do Christmas.”
Church officials say, despite their prayers, they had little choice but to cancel Christmas Mass for the first time in over two centuries.
Notre Dame’s rector, Patrick Chauvet, said it was only during the French Revolution that services stopped at the cathedral. The doors stayed open during both World Wars.
Since the fire, Notre Dame’s clergy, congregation and choir have joined its most famous statue and liturgy at a different church serving as a temporary home just under a mile away from the iconic Paris landmark.
The French government is also optimistic, promising normal services will resume by 2025.
In the grand scheme of things, five or six years of restoration for a cathedral that’s 855 years old doesn’t seem all that long, but reconstruction experts are warning it could take longer – a lot longer.
But for Eduarda Barrea, who grew up in Brazil and has called Paris home for the past three years, it’s the determination to restore Notre Dame she finds inspiring.
“For France, it is like a symbol, but I think in the same time people are trying to reconstruct and give everything to rebuild it and it is maybe the opportunity to go to other church and to rebuild your faith,” Barrea said.
A symbol of faith that is already rising from the ashes.