Notre Dame Holds Holy Thursday Service 2 Years After Fire Tore Through Iconic Cathedral

A Holy Thursday ceremony was held at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris this week, nearly two years after flames tore through the building's spire and roof.

Pictures from the service at the cathedral — which was damaged in a massive fire on April 15, 2019 — showed clergymen walking through the building's halls wearing hardhats and face masks.

The event was led by Paris Bishop Michel Aupetit, who was assisted by Notre-Dame's rector Patrick Chauvet, the Associated Press reported.

According to the Catholic News Agency, Holy Thursday is known as "possibly one of the most important, complex, and profound days" of celebration for followers of Catholicism. During the celebration, a bishop will wash the feet of 12 priests, similar to what Jesus is said to have done for his 12 Apostles in the Bible.

Attendance at the event at Notre Dame Cathedral on Thursday was limited due to construction on the building and social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic, the AP said.

The blaze that damaged the structure in 2019 may have been caused by an electrical malfunction, reports said at the time.

The cathedral is over 850 years old and served as the setting for Victor Hugo's 1831 novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It is also the site of the crownings of Henry VI of England and Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte of France.

While France aimed to have the building's spire reconstructed within a few years, the pandemic has slowed down efforts.

"The aim is to reopen the cathedral in 2024 even though the work won't all be done," Stéphane Tissier, director of operations of Notre Dame's reconstruction, told Time in April 2020. "The objective will be that that the public will be able to reenter in 2024."

In a video posted on the Elysée Palace website in April 2020, French President Emmanuel Macron repeated his promise to do everything possible to rebuild and reopen the cathedral in five years.

"We will do everything to meet this deadline," Macron said. "I don't think that wait-and-see or disarray is a reply to the challenge of these times."

"Of course, the site is on hold at the moment due to the health crisis, but it will restart as soon as possible," he added. "It must be rebuilt to the heights it was. Her force demands that."

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