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.
The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, said firefighters 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.”
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 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 will be moved to the Louvre Museum to be monitored.
He also tweeted photos of artwork and an alter crucifix being carried out of the Cathedral.
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” which Christ died upon, housed inside a gold reliquary, which came from Baldwin II of Constantinople.
Notre-Dame also plays host to a nail, one said to have been used to pin Jesus to the cross brought back to France by Saint Helena.
Not all of Notre-Dame’s iconic history was spared the blaze, though.
The three famous, and instantaneously recognizable, stained glass windows built between 1225 and 1260 were damaged.
The led welding which held the panes of colored 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 may have shattered as a result of the intense heat, but at least one of windows remains intact, the AFP reported.
The 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 fom firefighting efforts.
Notre Dame houses the Petits Mays, a collection of over 50 religious artworks gifted to the Cathedral in the 17th and 18th Century.
Two French billionaires have donated a joint sum of €300 million ($340 million) to fund repairs.