“This is the first time since the French Revolution that there will be no midnight Mass,” Patrick Chauvet, the cathedral rector, told The Associated Press, explaining that it will take place at nearby Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois. “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 iconic church remains under construction following a massive fire there in April that destroyed the more than 850-year-old cathedral’s roof and caused parts of the building to collapse, including the spire. It will take several years to reconstruct what was damaged in the blaze, which shocked onlookers all over the world.
Throughout history, the cathedral has been a beacon of hope, holding Christmas mass even through WWI — as Chauvet described, “the canons were there and the canons had to celebrate somewhere” — and during WWII when Paris was occupied by the Nazis. It was last closed for the holiday after 1789 when French revolutionaries turned it into “a temple of reason,” according to The AP.
Now, a wooden liturgical platform that resembles the one at Notre Dame has been erected in the Saint-Germain church, which sits just on the other side of the Seine river. And Notre Dame’s 14th-century “The Virgin of Paris,” sculpture, which was spared in the fire, has been placed on display, the AP reported.
In a bit of good news, while the cathedral is still shuttered, tourists can now see it lit up after dusk, it’s iconic gargoyles and stone illuminated, according to the news service.
As Notre Dame undergoes renovations, Paris is still a magical city in general and there is plenty to do around the festive holiday season, including going for a stroll through the Christmas market at La Défense, which features more than 300 chalets. Or try ice skating on the roof of famed department store Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann, where the view of the surrounding rooftops may be the best part.