- Several seminal religious relics were saved from the fire that ravaged Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday evening, according to local officials.
- Mayor Anne Hidalgo of Paris said artifacts like the crown of thorns, said to have been worn by Jesus on the cross, and the tunic of Saint Louis, worn by French King Louis IX in the 13th century, were saved.
- The cathedral’s organ was damaged, however, and several artworks are thought to have water damage. The 800-year-old stained glass windows also sustained damage.
- France’s superrich have pledged to donate more than 400 million euros, or $US452 million, to fund repairs.
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Several revered religious artifacts, including the crown of thorns purportedly worn by Jesus as he was crucified, were saved from the devastating blaze at Notre-Dame Cathedral.
Paris’ mayor, Anne Hidalgo, said firefighters and others had recovered a substantial number of key relics and artworks from the cathedral after it was engulfed by flames on Monday evening.
“Thanks to the @PompiersParis, the police and the municipal agents who tonight made a tremendous human chain to save the works of Notre-Dame,” she tweeted.
“The crown of thorns, the tunic of Saint Louis and several other major works are now in a safe place.”
Merci aux @PompiersParis, aux policiers et aux agents municipaux qui ont réalisé ce soir une formidable chaîne humaine pour sauver les œuvres de #NotreDame. La couronne d'épines, la tunique de Saint Louis et plusieurs autres œuvres majeures sont à présent en lieu sûr. pic.twitter.com/cbrGWCbL2N
— Anne Hidalgo (@Anne_Hidalgo) April 15, 2019
The crown of thorns is said to be the wreath Jesus wore as he was crucified. It was acquired by King Louis IX in 1238 and has resided in Notre-Dame since the French Revolution.
The king’s tunic, known as the tunic of St. Louis, was also saved from the blaze. It’s rare for linen to survive for such a long time in such good condition. Louis IX ruled from 1214 to 1270.
Franck Riester, France’s culture minister, told the French radio station France Inter on Tuesday that the artifacts were being housed at Paris’ city hall. He later gave a press conference to say they would be moved to the Louvre Museum to be monitored.
He also tweeted photos of artwork and an altar crucifix being carried out of the cathedral.
Les agents du @MinistereCC, épaulés par les équipes de l’archevêché, les @PompiersParis et les forces de sécurité, évacuent les œuvres se trouvant à l’intérieur de la cathédrale. Elles sont progressivement mises en sécurité. #NotreDame pic.twitter.com/iINHyUqJME
— Franck Riester (@franckriester) April 15, 2019
The crown of thorns and St. Louis’ tunic are part of the “Relics of Sainte-Chapelle,” a collection of artifacts acquired by France in the 13th century.
They also include a fragment of what is believed to be the “true cross” that Christ died upon, housed inside a gold reliquary, which came from Baldwin II of Constantinople.
Notre-Dame also houses a nail said to have been used to pin Jesus to the cross and taken to France by Saint Helena.
Not all of Notre-Dame’s iconic history was spared the blaze, though.
The three instantaneously recognisable stained-glass windows built between 1225 and 1260 were damaged.
The led welding that held the panes of coloured glass together melted under the heat of the flames, one bishop of the Archdiocese of Paris, Benoist de Sinety, told RCF.
It had been feared that the windows might have shattered as a result of the intense heat, but at least one of windows remains intact, AFP reported.
The cathedral’s 800-year-old organ was also damaged, Riester told France Inter. He said it “seems to be quite affected.”
While the flames spared many of the artworks hanging on the walls, Riester warned that water damage would be incurred from firefighting efforts.
Notre-Dame houses the Petits Mays, a collection of more than 50 religious artworks gifted to the cathedral in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Donors by Tuesday morning had pledged more than 400 million euros, or $US452 million, to help repair the cathedral.
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