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Paris chaplain saves Crown of Thorns in Notre Dame blaze

The Holy Crown of Thorns. (Notre-Dame de Paris/Released)
April 17, 2019

Many relics were destroyed in the fire that devastated the Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday, but one very important piece was saved by a quick-thinking chaplain.

The Crown of Thorns, believed to have been worn by Jesus Christ when he was crucified, was rescued from the flames by Father Jean-Marc Fournier, chaplain of the Paris Fire Department, according to the New York Post.

Fournier is being called a hero after he demanded to go inside the cathedral with firefighters to save the crown and other priceless relics. The Paris firefighters established a human chain to salvage the crown and the other items.

The Crown of Thorns made its way to the renowned cathedral by King Louis IX in the 13th century before he was sanctified as a Saint.

While flames raged from the rooftop during the rescue, Fournier was also able to save a tunic worn by King Louis IX the church’s Blessed Sacrament.

“Father Fournier is an absolute hero. He showed no fear at all as he made straight for the relics inside the cathedral and made sure they were saved. He deals with life and death every day and shows no fear,” a first responder said.

Fournier considers himself blessed to have been on the scene for other disasters, including the 2015 Bataclan terror attack in Paris, where he was able to console French soldiers and victims, and pray over the 89 people that were killed.

The fire at the 800-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral destroyed many relics but thankfully many were also spared from the blaze.

Among the saved items was the Great Organ, which was built by Francois Thierry in the mid-18th century. The 8,000-pipe organ is said to be one of the most well-known and biggest in the world, CBS News reported.

While everything surrounding it was burned, the cathedral’s altar and a golden cross survived the fire.

A week before the fire, 16 statues were taken by crane from the cathedral’s pinnacle for renovation in part of a $6.8 million project. The statues included the 12 apostles and four evangelists would have been destroyed since the pinnacle collapsed in the blaze.

The stained-glass windows of the cathedral appear to have been saved, however, damage estimates on them are still largely unknown. Some of the other items that were saved include candelabras, gold-plated furniture, and some art pieces. They were moved other locations for the time being to ensure their safety.

Candida Moss, professor of theology at Britain’s University of Birmingham said, “What they didn’t save were the relics that were in the spire of the cathedral itself. They had small portions of the relics of St. Denis and St. Genevieve in the spire that are presumed lost.”

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been pledged by individuals and partner nations for the Rrebuilding efforts, which are expected to take between 20 and 40 years, CBS News reported.