Nearly a year after a massive blaze devastated the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, only seven people attended a special televised Good Friday service at the 850-year-old church.
The ceremony began Friday morning, with Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit entering the cathedral and presenting an important relic, the Crown of Thorns of Christ, which survived the fire.
“A year ago, the cathedral was destroyed. Today the country is ravaged by a pandemic. There’s always a message of hope, and this celebration at the heart of the cathedral will be the sign of our hope,” Aupetit told CNN affiliate BFMTV before the service,.
The 40-minute Good Friday service also featured classical musician Renaud Capuçon playing the violin. Actors Philippe Torreton and Judith Chemla, who also sang, delivered readings of Christian texts.
The small group, some wearing masks and hazmat suits, held the ceremony in a secured part of the cathedral in front of a large cross and under a hole in the cathedral’s roof.
Construction at one of the world’s most famous cathedrals, which burned down on April 15, 2019, has been put on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, but will possibly resume in 2021 when its safe to do so, Aupetit told BFMTV.
French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced on March 14 that the country would close all places that are not essential to French living, which includes restaurants, cafes and clubs.
France also banned all gatherings across the country, and the country closed its borders on March 17 in order to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
There are over 117,700 confirmed coronavirus cases in France, and more than 12,200 people have died.