Notre-Dame Cathedral to hold small Good Friday service amid France's coronavirus lockdown

PARIS (Reuters) – A small congregation of worshippers will hold a short service on Good Friday at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, a year after it was devastated by fire, but attendance will be limited because of a lockdown during the coronavirus outbreak.

Seven people will attend the televised meditation ceremony on Friday, when Christians commemorate the death of Jesus Christ.

“Only a few priests will attend the masses that we will celebrate during the Holy Week and people will be able to follow services on radio or on television,” Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit said told a video news conference.

The service will include a wreath rescued after the fire at Notre-Dame.

There will be no Easter Saturday processions this year because of the lockdown, which limits the size of public gatherings.

On Easter Sunday, when Christians celebrate Christ’s resurrection, Aupetit will hold a mass in Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois church near Le Louvre museum in the heart of Paris, with about 20 people attending.

Last year, hundreds of Parisians gathered for Easter Sunday mass at Saint-Eustache church in central Paris and prayed for the swift restoration of Notre-Dame after the fire that ripped through it days earlier, on April 15.

The fire destroyed the mediaeval cathedral’s roof, toppled the spire and almost brought down the main bell towers and outer walls before firefighters brought it under control.

President Emmanuel Macron has set a target of five years for restoring Notre-Dame, one of Europe’s main landmarks.

(This story corrects headline and first paragraph to make clear Friday’s service will not be a mass)

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