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Tourists, worshippers lament loss of Notre Dame

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A woman stands on steps near the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Saturday. Rebuilding Notre Dame, the 800-year-old Paris cathedral devastated by fire, will cost billions of dollars as architects, historians and artisans work to preserve the medieval landmark. [Francisco Seco/The Associagted Press]
A woman stands on steps near the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Saturday. Rebuilding Notre Dame, the 800-year-old Paris cathedral devastated by fire, will cost billions of dollars as architects, historians and artisans work to preserve the medieval landmark. [Francisco Seco/The Associagted Press]

PARIS — Tourists, devout Catholics and others looked on mournfully at Notre Dame Cathedral Saturday, regretting that they couldn't get inside the magnificent monument on this Easter weekend because of the damage caused by fire.

Parishioners who normally celebrate Easter at Notre Dame attended Saturday evening's Easter Vigil Mass at the nearby Saint-Sulpice Church instead.

They were joined by other visitors who had hoped to celebrate Easter in Notre Dame, the 12th century cathedral whose priceless relics include the Crown of Thorns purported to have been worn by Jesus at his crucifixion.

The relics were spirited out amid Monday's fire in a dramatic rescue operation. But the blaze consumed Notre Dame's roof and collapsed its spire — and forced the Paris diocese to scramble for new locales for Easter celebrations.

Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit led the Saturday vigil at Saint-Sulpice, which began with a procession symbolizing Christians' belief that Jesus triumphed over death by resurrection following crucifixion. Inside the darkened church, the congregation held candles providing the only light.

Aupetit will lead Easter Mass on Sunday at the Saint-Eustache Church on the other side of the Seine River.

Earlier Saturday, crowds of onlookers lined the embankments across from the island housing the cathedral, taking photos or just staring in shock.

Visitor Susan Harlow of Kansas City, Missouri, said: "We didn't get here in time to see it. And now we probably never will," given the many years it's expected to take to repair.

"As Catholics, this is hard to bear," said her husband, Paul.

Notre Dame isn't expected to reopen to the public for several years.

The Paris fire service said Saturday that the last hot points in Notre Dame have been cooled, and firefighters who had worked inside non-stop since Monday's fire have now left.

Authorities believe it was an accident, possibly linked to the renovation work under way before the fire.

Related Photos
<strong>Flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral last Monday. The inferno that raged through the historic site for more than 12 hours destroyed its spire and its roof but spared its twin medieval bell towers. [Thibault Camus/The Associated Press]</strong>

Flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral last Monday. The inferno that raged through the historic site for more than 12 hours destroyed its spire and its roof but spared its twin medieval bell towers. [Thibault Camus/The Associated Press]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-1da94e386e64023713bce16ecfd7b1e6.jpg" alt="Photo - Flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral last Monday. The inferno that raged through the historic site for more than 12 hours destroyed its spire and its roof but spared its twin medieval bell towers. [Thibault Camus/The Associated Press] " title=" Flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral last Monday. The inferno that raged through the historic site for more than 12 hours destroyed its spire and its roof but spared its twin medieval bell towers. [Thibault Camus/The Associated Press] "><figcaption> Flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral last Monday. The inferno that raged through the historic site for more than 12 hours destroyed its spire and its roof but spared its twin medieval bell towers. [Thibault Camus/The Associated Press] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-6a64080f3eb0f72ef067ed7d34c0975c.jpg" alt="Photo - Two people jog under a bridge by a the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Saturday, April 20, 2019. Rebuilding Notre Dame, the 800-year-old Paris cathedral devastated by fire this week, will cost billions of dollars as architects, historians and artisans work to preserve the medieval landmark. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)" title="Two people jog under a bridge by a the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Saturday, April 20, 2019. Rebuilding Notre Dame, the 800-year-old Paris cathedral devastated by fire this week, will cost billions of dollars as architects, historians and artisans work to preserve the medieval landmark. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)"><figcaption>Two people jog under a bridge by a the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Saturday, April 20, 2019. Rebuilding Notre Dame, the 800-year-old Paris cathedral devastated by fire this week, will cost billions of dollars as architects, historians and artisans work to preserve the medieval landmark. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-76ce89d3b150d4b2b5bd8161133cb1ad.jpg" alt="Photo - Two people walk by a the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Saturday, April 20, 2019. Yellow vest protests are scheduled to take place in Paris and other regions of France over the weekend, with a heightened security presence anticipated. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)" title="Two people walk by a the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Saturday, April 20, 2019. Yellow vest protests are scheduled to take place in Paris and other regions of France over the weekend, with a heightened security presence anticipated. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)"><figcaption>Two people walk by a the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Saturday, April 20, 2019. Yellow vest protests are scheduled to take place in Paris and other regions of France over the weekend, with a heightened security presence anticipated. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-8979dd92dae77679e918e2154d5f8d09.jpg" alt="Photo - A woman stands on steps near the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Saturday. Rebuilding Notre Dame, the 800-year-old Paris cathedral devastated by fire, will cost billions of dollars as architects, historians and artisans work to preserve the medieval landmark. [Francisco Seco/The Associagted Press] " title=" A woman stands on steps near the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Saturday. Rebuilding Notre Dame, the 800-year-old Paris cathedral devastated by fire, will cost billions of dollars as architects, historians and artisans work to preserve the medieval landmark. [Francisco Seco/The Associagted Press] "><figcaption> A woman stands on steps near the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Saturday. Rebuilding Notre Dame, the 800-year-old Paris cathedral devastated by fire, will cost billions of dollars as architects, historians and artisans work to preserve the medieval landmark. [Francisco Seco/The Associagted Press] </figcaption></figure>
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