It will be a true silent night at the Notre Dame Cathedral this year, as there will be no Christmas Mass for the first time since it was briefly converted to the secular “Temple of Reason” during the French Revolution.
“Notre Dame Cathedral is unable to host Christmas services for the first time since the French Revolution, because the Paris landmark was too deeply damaged by this year’s fire,” reported The Associated Press.
“Its exiled clergy, choir and congregation are celebrating the holiday in another Gothic church next to the Louvre Museum instead,” the report continued. “Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services will be held in the Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois church, once used for French royalty. Notre Dame’s rector, Monsignor Patrick Chauvet, will celebrate Mass there Wednesday for Notre Dame’s faithful, accompanied by song from some of Notre Dame’s now-itinerant choir.”
Though the structure remains largely intact, the fire from this past April torched the roof into disrepair and collapsed the spire. It will take nearly a decade to fully bring the church back to its former glory. The Associated Press provided some history around its miraculous survival for nearly a millennia:
The world-renowned cathedral has seen plenty of upheaval since its first stone was laid in 1163. It halted services after revolutionaries overthrew the monarchy and declared Notre Dame “a temple of reason,” but resumed religious activities under Napoleon in 1803, according to cathedral officials.
It kept going during two world wars, and Nazi occupation. Soldiers guarded its Christmas Mass in 2015, weeks after France’s deadliest-ever terror attacks.
As The Daily Wire’s Emily Zanotti reported, the Notre Dame fire most likely originated from a burning cigarette, leading prosecutors to investigate whether or not the fire resulted from mere negligence. Several weeks after the initial blaze, the scaffolding firm originally charged with renovating the Notre Dame cathedral admitted that construction workers were smoking cigarettes on site. However, the company, Le Bras Freres, denies that it started the fire.
“We condemn it. But the fire started inside the building … so for company Le Bras, this is not a hypothesis, it was not a cigarette butt that set Notre-Dame de Paris on fire,” said Le Bras spokesman Marc Eskenazi.
Following the fire, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that the cathedral will eventually be even “more beautiful,” while also calling for it to be rebuilt in just five years.
“The fire at Notre Dame reminds us that our history never stops and we will always have challenges to overcome,” Macron said. “We will rebuild Notre Dame, more beautiful than before — and I want it done in the next five years. We can do it. After the time of testing comes a time of reflection and then of action.”
Experts speculate, however, that the rebuilding of Notre Dame could take decades. For instance, the roof was comprised of oak beams cut from centuries-old trees that likely do not even exist in Europe today.
“Some of that material may be reusable, and that’s a painstaking exercise. It’s like an archaeological excavation,” Duncan Wilson, chief executive of the conservation organization Historic England, told The Guardian.