Notre-Dame's cornerstone is Christ, he emphasized. “If we were to remove this stone, this cathedral would collapse. It would be an empty shell, a case without jewels, a skeleton without life, a body without a soul.”
While the cathedral, as “the fruit of human genius,” is “man's masterpiece,” he said that “the human person is the fruit of the divine genius. It is God's masterpiece.”
“When the two are joined together in the person of Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, the Covenant between the transcendent and the immanent (Heaven and earth) is truly accomplished. It is here and now in this cathedral at each one of the Eucharists that we celebrate, that this Covenant is realized, when the body of Christ shared by all, opens us to eternal life.”
Aupetit concluded: “We can't say enough that we are happy to celebrate this Mass to render to God what is God's and to Man his sublime vocation.”
A fire broke out in Notre-Dame April 15. The roof and the spire, which dated to the 19th century, were destroyed. The major religious and artistic treasures of the cathedral were removed as the fire began, including a relic of the crown of thorns.
Originally built between the twelfth through fourteenth centuries, the landmark cathedral in the French capital is one of the most recognizable churches in the world.
The cathedral was undergoing some restorative work at the time the fire broke out, though it is unknown if the fire originated in the area of the work.
Last month the French Senate passed a bill mandating that Notre-Dame be rebuilt as it was before the fire. President Emmanuel Macron had called for “an inventive reconstruction” of the cathedral.
Since the adoption of the 1905 law on separation of church and state, which formalized laïcité (a strict form of public secularism), religious buildings in France have been property of the state.