'We stand in genuine sympathy with the citizens and the faithful of Paris'

Over two hundred people turned out for a special mass held at Notre Dame Basilica in solidarity with the Archdiocese of Paris in the wake of the devastating fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

The Archdiocese of Montreal announced two hours before the regular 12:15 p.m. mass at the basilica that it would focus on prayers for those affected.

"This tragedy has occurred at the beginning of the Holy Week. We stand in genuine sympathy with the citizens and the faithful of Paris, and with all those affected by this tragedy in France and throughout the world," said Archbishop Christian Lépine in a statement.

During the half hour service attended by both worshippers and tourists, Lépine said the gothic cathedral was not only a part of history but a part of their identity - an institution that touched the hearts of many in the world.

A moment of silence was held for "everyone affected, especially Paris, the diocese and citizens."