Paris, 10 April 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Notre Dame Cathedral is scarred by fire, with a hole gaping in the roof, and Paris is under lockdown due to the coronavirus, but the cathedral still marked Good Friday.
With only three companions, Archbishop Michel Aupetit proceeded into the 800-year-old cathedral wearing a builder’s helmet which he took off to bow before the Crown of Thorns.
One of the holiest relics in Christianity, the crown is traditionally believed to have been that placed on Jesus’ head by Roman soldiers mocking him before the crucifixion commemorated on Good Friday.
The relic was rescued by firefighters during the blaze that devastated the cathedral a year ago next Wednesday.
Friday’s ceremony is only the second to take place in Notre Dame since then, after a Mass celebrated in a rear chapel last year.
The cathedral lost its roof and spire in the fire, and was heavily contaminated with lead that melted off the roof.
Two actors and a violinist who performed readings, hymns and music wore white protective overalls during Friday’s ceremony.
“Today, Lord, in this Holy Week, the whole world is laid low by a pandemic that spreads death and paralyses us,” Aupetit said before the Crown of Thorns, laid out in its gold and crystal case on a crimson cushion behind the altar of the cathedral.
“Yes, Lord, come and show us that you are not abandoning us in this time that we must live through,” Aupetit prayed.
Ceremonies for Holy Week and Easter are being held without any public attendance in many countries in an unprecedented measure to reduce the spread of the virus.