PARIS -- Catholic pilgrims have held an emotional procession past fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral, singing and parading with a statue of the Virgin Mary rescued from the flames.
Hundreds gathered on a bridge near the cordoned-off cathedral for Thursday's Assumption Day procession. They wound along nearby embankments toward Saint Sulpice Church on the Left Bank for a service led by Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit.
The procession would have started in the forecourt of Notre Dame, but the entire area and some nearby streets are now fenced off and under strict security. As the ceremony began, workers cleared debris from benches around the cathedral as part of decontamination efforts amid fears of residual lead poisoning from April's fire.
In the Roman Catholic Church, Assumption Day is when Mary was taken bodily into heaven.