Onlookers crowd in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, Wednesday two days after it was heavily damaged by a fire. Photo by Eco Clement/UPI | License Photo
April 19 (UPI) -- Services for Good Friday will be held outdoors at Paris' fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral and one of the relics saved from the blaze this week will feature prominently in a procession at the sanctuary.
A procession across a bridge connecting Paris to the Ile de la Cite, the natural island in the middle of city where the medieval church is located, was scheduled for Friday. The ceremony, known as the Stations of the Cross, recounts the last day of Jesus through prayers in 14 locations and is generally conducted inside the church. Two relics rescued from Monday's fire -- the Crown of Thorns believed to have been worn by Jesus at his crucifixion and the tunic of St. Louis -- will play key roles, the Catholic Diocese of Paris said.
Other events, including liturgies for Good Friday and Saturday's Easter vigil, were transferred to the Basilica of St. Sulpice near the landmark cathedral. The Easter Sunday mass will move to the Church of St. Eustache, another large church nearby, officials said. Paris' St. Sulpice church was itself burned last month, by an arsonist, and received more than $1 million in damage to its doors and 18th century woodwork and stained glass.
Hundreds of millions of dollars have been pledged so far to rebuild the 850-year old Notre Dame Cathedral. French President Emmanuel Macron has set a goal of five years to rebuild it, but experts say it'll more likely be 10 to 15 years before the sanctuary is fully restored.
French first lady Brigitte Macron joined Paris Mayor Anne Hildago, French Culture Minister Christophe Castaner and 2,000 worshipers at a service Wednesday within the burned cathedral, which was led by Archbishop Michel Aupetit.
"Our cathedral is on its knees. We will rebuild our cathedral," Aupetit said at the service, adding that the Catholic Church needs restoration. "We also have to put our church back on its feet."
Investigators are still unsure what caused the fire that burned for nearly 10 hours Monday as construction crews were working on renovations.