- Notre-Dame Cathedral, an over 850-year-old church in the heart of Paris, caught on fire on April 15, 2019.
- The iconic spire collapsed within an hour of the fire starting, and Paris deputy mayor, Emmanuel Gregoire, said the cathedral has suffered “colossal damages,” according to CBS News.
- In addition to being a place of worship, it was home to many priceless artifacts and works of art endangered by the blaze.
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In a truly unbelievable scene, the Notre-Dame Cathedral was ablaze for hours – it was put out after intense work by firefighters. Thankfully, according to the New York Times, the building was found structurally sound, so an investigation can begin.
While it will likely take a few days to properly assess the damage and take stock of what has survived the fire and what has been destroyed, from relics of the patron saints of Paris to the largest organ in France, much of what could be lost is priceless.
Keep scrolling to see what firefighters were desperately trying to save.
A tiny piece of the Crown of Thorns that Jesus wore during his crucifixion is kept at the treasury at Notre-Dame. It was saved from the blaze.
The Crown of Thorns is a sacred relic, believed to have been worn by Jesus Christ himself. It’s normally stored at the end of the nave of the cathedral, not readily visible to visitors.
Mayor Anne Hidalgo of Paris said that the Crown of Thorns, as well as other other holy relics, like the tunic of Saint Louis, worn by French King Louis IX in the 13th century, were saved from the fire.
Notre-Dame is home to stunning stained-glass windows: many of them melted in the blaze.
- Flickr/julie corsi
The cathedral is home to three stunning rose windows that feature stained-glass panes and date back to 1260.
According to one bishop of the Archdiocese of Paris, Benoist de Sinety, the lead welding holding the windows together melted – but at least one window remains intact.
Relics of both Saint Denis and Saint Genevieve were located inside the spire, which collapsed in the fire.
- Brian Kinney/Shutterstock
Denis and Genevieve are both the patron saints of Paris. Relics of theirs were placed atop the spire in 1935 by Archbishop Verdier to protect the church and its congregation from ill fortune.
The spire collapsed less than an hour after the fire began.
The entire interior of the cathedral is covered with priceless paintings. Some were saved, while others may have experienced water damage.
Artwork adorns a significant amount of walls inside the church, with paintings dating back to the 1600s. Two of the most important are “Saint Thomas Aquinas, Fountain of Wisdom,” created by Antoine Nicolas in 1648, and “The Visitation,” created by Jean Jouvenet in 1716.
Firefighters were working to clear the building of its most precious art, but the specifics of which pieces of art were saved are unclear. However, water damage is likely.
Pieces of the cross that Jesus was believed to be crucified on were located inside, along with one of the nails.
These relics were normally on display on the first Friday of every month, and then every Friday during Lent. The wood fragments have been in the cathedral since 1805, while the nail was given to Notre-Dame in 1824.
It’s unclear what has happened to them.
Although the iconic statues representing the 12 Apostles were removed as recently as last week, there are plenty of other statues inside and outside Notre-Dame, including multiple gargoyles.
The apostles were removed due to renovations that Notre-Dame was undergoing, but the same cannot be said for the gargoyles and chimera statues that look out over the cityscape.
There are statues located inside the cathedral as well that depict saints, religious figures, and mythological creatures.
Among the statues and sculptures inside are the Virgin Mary holding a (decapitated) baby Jesus, sculptures of Saint Etienne, and another statue of Mary sitting atop a throne.
The Great Organ — the largest organ in France — calls Notre-Dame home. It contains pieces that date back to the Middle Ages.
The organ has five keyboards and around 8,000 pipes.
Notre-Dame houses 10 bells that weigh up to four tons each.
The others are named Marie, Gabriel, Anne-Geneviève, Denis, Marcel, Etienne, Benoît-Joseph, Maurice, and Jean-Marie. It’s thought that these bells also survived, since the bell towers emerged from the blaze relatively unscathed, but their fate hasn’t been officially announced yet.
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