Notre Dame Cathedral's Reconstruction Could Take up to 20 Years, Rector Says

Notre Dame

Almost exactly two years after the fire that devastated Paris's Notre Dame Cathedral, the historic landmark held small services for Holy Week as reconstruction on the iconic church continues.

On Holy Thursday, the cathedral held a small ceremony that included a foot-washing ritual, ABC News reported. The service was held at the cathedral, which is still under construction.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions and the cathedral's current state, only six people were selected to attend the ceremony. The group included medical staff, the needy and some who would be baptized on Easter Sunday.

Notre Dame Cathedral

It is unlikely that Notre Dame will be holding elaborate ceremonies for religious holidays any time soon.

Following Good Friday ceremonies, Notre Dame Rector Patrick Chauvet told The Associated Press that the cathedral and its esplanade could remain under construction for another "15 or 20 years."

"I can guarantee that there's work to do," Chauvet told The AP.

After the April 2019 fire, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that reconstruction work on Notre Dame would be completed within five years (for Paris to host the 2024 Olympics). But that date was quickly dispelled by church authorities.

The fire spread toxic lead dust throughout the nearby area, which necessitated cleaning before construction work could even begin. Already, rebuilding from the fire has been a lengthy process. It took over a year to decide what the construction process would entail and until November 2020 to remove charred scaffolding from the structure.

Areas near the cathedral have been slowly reopening to the public as work progresses. The public plaza in front of the church reopened in June and the crypt beneath Notre Dame reopened in September.

Notre Dame is currently operating from its temporary liturgical base at the nearby church of Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois. While Paris waits for the cathedral to reopen, a temporary, smaller chapel could open on its grounds.

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at

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