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The Archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit , has launched this Good Friday from the Notre Dame Cathedral "a message of hope" amid the pandemic due to the Covid-19 coronavirus, days before the first anniversary of the fire that devastated on April 15, 2019 this jewel of the Gothic.

Aupetit officiated behind closed doors and in 'petit committee' a mass in the Notre Dame Cathedral, located in the heart of the French capital, coinciding with the Catholic celebration of Good Friday, which commemorates the death of Jesus of Nazareth in the cross.

The archbishop entered the cathedral, for security reasons, with a construction helmet, which he took off to officiate the mass . At the start of the ceremony, Aupetit venerated the Holy Crown of Thorns, one of the relics saved from the Notre Dame fire a year ago and a Christian symbol that recalls the Passion of Jesus. This relic, which has been preserved in France for eight centuries, was acquired in the 13th century by Saint Louis , King of France.

"This Crown of Thorns was saved the night of the fire by firefighters," explained the Archbishop of Paris, who considered that this relic is both a symbol of Christ's suffering and a reminder that "at the height of our suffering, we are not alone and that you are always with us. " "Come and show us that you do not abandon us in this time that we have to live," asked Aupetit.

The ceremony, broadcast live on television, was held without faithful, due to the confinement due to the coronavirus and the poor condition of the cathedral, whose consolidation work after the fire has not yet been completed. The last mass that was celebrated in Notre Dame was on June 15, 2019, two months after the incident.

"Lord, Lord Jesus, a year ago this cathedral where we are burned (...) Today we are in this cathedral, half sunk, to say that life is always present (...) Today, this Easter , the entire world is affected by a pandemic that sows death and paralyzes us, "recalled the archbishop in a cathedral, closed to the public since the fire and with all of France confined since March 17 by the coronavirus.

"We are going to celebrate Easter shortly and we will celebrate that life is stronger than death," added the archbishop, who asked God to accompany the coronavirus sufferers in these difficult times, those in mourning for the death of loved ones and medical staff and volunteers fighting Covid-19. Aupetit trusted that "this test allows us to live what you have taught us: to love one another as you have loved us."

Actors Philippe Torreton and Judith Chemla read texts by French poets Paul Claudel and Charles Peguy and by Mother Teresa of Calcutta during mass, while violinist Renaud Capuçon performed various musical pieces in a simple and intimate ceremony. All three were covered with a protective suit against the lead microparticles that came off after the fire and collapse of the spire of the cathedral.

A year ago the flames devoured the wooden structure of the ceiling of this Gothic cathedral. The 19th century spire that crowned the temple crumbled. Part of the vault was destroyed in the fire, but the walls of Notre Dame remained standing. The rose windows and numerous treasures, relics and artistic works that were inside were saved.

After the fire, the French president, Emmanuel Macron , set himself the goal of rebuilding the cathedral within five years, a goal that many consider too ambitious. The president wants it to be restored for the 2024 Paris Olympics. A year later, the building's consolidation works are paralyzed by confinement by the coronavirus.

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