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Notre Dame celebrates first mass after devastating fire

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Notre Dame celebrates first mass after devastating fire
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Karine Perret/Pool via REUTERS
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The Archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, held the first mass at Notre Dame on Saturday since a devastating fire destroyed the roof, spire and part of the cathedral's vault.

Only about thirty people were allowed to attend the mass, the Catholic Diocese of Paris said, citing "security reasons". Roughly fifteen were priests including the Archbishop of Paris and auxiliary bishop Philippe Marsset.

"It was an emotional moment especially because most of the [mass attendees] work at the cathedral," the Archbishop of Paris said at a press conference after the mass. "It's their home".

The mass celebrated the anniversary of the cathedral's dedication as a place of prayer, which occurs annually.

The Archdiocese of Paris confirmed to Euronews on Saturday that attendees would have to enter the cathedral wearing a helmet. Indeed, attendees wore hard helmets during the mass.

Aupetit said leading mass with a helmet was very bizarre but he did take it off for a moment during the consecration.

The mass took place in one of Notre Dame's small chapels that was not damaged by the fire — the Chapel of the Virgin — where the relic of the "crown of thorns" believed to be worn by Jesus during his crucifixion is kept.

This is not a return to normal for the cathedral. There is no other mass planned in the cathedral.

The fire that ravaged the 850-year-old gothic cathedral took place on April 15.

It destroyed the cathedral's roof and collapsed the spire, exposing the surrounding areas to lead that was present in the roof.

France's regional health authority issued a warning earlier this month that urged families living near the cathedral to have their blood tested for lead contamination after a child was detected to have an abnormally high level of lead in their blood.

Before the fire, the cathedral was visited by roughly 13 million people per year.

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