Notre Dame cathedral will skip services for the holiday this year for the first time since 1803, following the devastating fire that happened in April 2019.
Notre Dame—the iconic Paris landmark—part of a Unesco World Heritage site on the banks of the River Seine, was ravaged by the April 15 blaze, losing its gothic spire, roof, and many precious artifacts, the Guardian reported.
The building had remained open for Christmas over its 200 years of turbulent history, including the Nazi occupation in World War II. The services only stopped at the cathedral during the French Revolution.
Notre Dame choir singers told CBS News that they still find it hard to believe they won’t be performing Christmas Mass there this year.
“To think that I was ill last Christmas and I missed Christmas at Notre Dame thinking that I would go again this year with no problem,” choir member Mathilde Ortscheidt said. “No, I can’t believe I’m not going to do Christmas.”
The cathedral’s press office said the rector, Patrick Chauvet, would still celebrate midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, but it would be held at the nearby church of Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has set a timetable of five or six years to repair the 855-year-old landmark.
And the French government was also optimistic, promising normal services will resume by 2025.