Notre Dame Cathedral holds first mass since devastating fire in April

For security reasons only about 30 people — mainly priests canons and church employees — were admitted inside the cathedral for the service while Aupetit and others wore construction worker's helmets. Some of the workers rebuilding the church were

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However, worshippers outside the cathedral will be able to watch the service on a Catholic television station that plans to carry it, according to The Associated Press. Some of the workers hired to rebuild the church were also invited.

Pauline Touchon, a student in Paris, came because she heard the mass would be held close to the cathedral with an opportunity for public participation.

Exactly two months after the blaze engulfed the landmark Gothic building in the French capital, the service was celebrated by Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit in a chapel behind the choir, a place confirmed by construction experts as safe.

Less than 10% of the 850 million euros ($953 million) pledged by billionaires, business leaders and others have been received so far, the French government said.

Worshippers will be expected to don hard hats but priests will be wearing their ceremonial garb.

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The small group convened in a chapel behind the large gold-covered cross that was miraculously found intact after the fire, which destroyed the building's roof, causing its iconic spire to collapse.

Most of the funds for the cathedral's restoration are now coming from American and French individuals, via Notre Dame charitable foundations, paying the bills and salaries for up to 150 workers employed by Notre Dame since an April 15 fire, ABC News reported.

"This cathedral is a place of worship, it is its very own and unique objective", Mr Aupetit said.

"It is a message of hope and thanks to all those who were moved by what happened to this cathedral", he added, acknowledging afterwards it was "a bit strange" to celebrate mass with a helmet.

This comes as the French parliament is slowly debating amendments to a new law that would create a public body to expedite the restoration of the cathedral and circumvent some of the country's famously complex labour laws.

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Among the high-profile people who promised to donate to the rebuilding effort were luxury goods tycoons Bernard Arnault and Francois-Henri Pinault.

Mr Riester said: "There could be people who promised to donate then in the end did not".

President Emmanuel Macron has set a target of five years for restoring the cathedral, though Riester was more cautious. While some architects have questioned the feasibility of such a timeline, those overseeing the reconstruction say they are sticking to that target. "That is normal, the donations will be made progressively as the restoration work continues".

The damaged cathedral. fix work is underway, but it expected to take years.

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