The Notre Dame Cathedral might never be the same.
The building is still under construction eight months after a massive fire erupted inside the historic Parisian landmark in April and destroyed the cathedral’s roof, causing the spire to collapse.
Early on Christmas morning, the landmark’s rector Patrick Chauvet told the Associated Press there’s a 50 percent chance that the 850-year-old building will not be entirely saved. Explaining that the scaffolding installed before the fire is threatening the vaults of the monument, Chauvet also revealed that work to restore the landmark isn’t set to begin until 2021.
“Today it is not out of danger,” he told the AP. “It will be out of danger when we take out the remaining scaffolding.”
“Today we can say that there is maybe a 50 percent chance that it will be saved. There is also 50 percent chance of scaffolding falling onto the three vaults, so as you can see the building is still very fragile,” Chauvet continued.
The Catholic church is a world-famous landmark for the French capital. It draws about 13 million visitors per year and has been a center of religious and cultural life in Paris since it was completed around 1365.
But things have changed since it went up in flames earlier this year.
“We need to remove completely the scaffolding in order to make the building safe so in 2021 we will probably start the restoration of the cathedral,” Chauvet said. “Once the scaffolding is removed we need to assess the state of the cathedral, the quantity of stones to be removed and replaced.”
Chauvet said it would take about three years after the scaffolding is removed to make the church safe enough for visitors to enter the cathedral.
The full restoration, however, is expected to take longer. French President Emmanuel Macron has said he wants the building completed by the time Paris hosts the Olympics in 2024, though experts believe total restoration will take more than five years.
Before the blaze, the church was undergoing an extensive $6.8 million renovation.
On Wednesday, the Paris cathedral did not host its annual midnight Christmas mass for the first time in 200 years due to the aftermath of the April fire.
This marked the first time since the French Revolution that the Notre Dame Cathedral did not hold a Christmas mass, according to Chauvet. Instead, churchgoers had the option to attend Christmas service at the Paris Gothic church, Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois, on Christmas Eve at midnight.
It’s the place of worship in which parishioners of Notre Dame have been attending since September.
Cathedral officials chose Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois due to its proximity to the Notre Dame and because of its royal history. It once welcomed France’s kings who were living in the nearby Louvre Palace, the AP noted.
Several symbolic items have been added or recreated in Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois to make Notre Dame churchgoers feel at home, including a new wooden liturgical platform that resembles the Paris cathedral.
“The Virgin of Paris” sculpture, which was saved from the fire, has also been placed on display inside the church.
Since April, more than $1 billion has been donated to go towards the Notre Dame’s repair.