SHARE
COPY LINK

NOTRE DAME

What happened to the treasures of Notre-Dame during the blaze?

The fire-gutted Notre-Dame cathedral contained some of the most sacred relics of the Christian faith, including part of the Holy Crown of Thorns believed to have been worn by Jesus at his crucifixion. Here's a look at the state of some the main treasures after the blaze.

What happened to the treasures of Notre-Dame during the blaze?
One of Notre-Dame's three impressive stained glass circular rose windows. Photo: AFP
While firefighters were able to save the crown as Monday's massive blaze tore through the building in the heart of Paris, the fate of other items inside the 850-year-old Gothic cathedral is unclear.
 
Certain items were evacuated from the cathedral and stored in the nearby Hotel de Ville (see below) during the fire. 
 
   
 
France's Culture Minister Franck Riester said that the rest of the treasures would be stored at the Louvre on either Tuesday or Wednesday. 
 
Here's an overview of some of the treasures contained in the venerated Notre-Dame (Our Lady) Cathedral:
 
Holy relics
 
Its most precious item, the Holy Crown of Thorns, is about 21 centimetres (eight inches) in diameter and made up of rushes braided together and bound by gold wire.
   
Firefighters who were directed to the cathedral's most treasured objects rescued the crown as well as a tunic worn by 13th-century French crusader king, Louis IX, who was made a saint.
 
READ ALSO:
The Holy Crown of Thorns. Photo: AFP
   
Notre-Dame also held two other relics said to be from the crucifixion of Jesus: a piece of the cross on which he was nailed and one of the nails.
   
There were three holy items in the spire that collapsed in flames on Monday: a fragment of the Crown of Thorns and relics from Saint Denis and Saint Genevieve, two of the city's most cherished saints.
 
 
The Great Organ
 
Of the cathedral's three organs, the most impressive is the Great Organ with five keyboards, 109 stops and close to 8,000 pipes.
   
Built in the 15th century, the organ was progressively added to over the centuries to become one of the largest in France. 
   
It survived the 18th century French Revolution unscathed, even though the building was vandalised, “thanks no doubt to its use in playing patriotic music,” the cathedral website says.   
 
Culture Minister Franck Riester said the organ “seems to be quite badly damaged”.
 
The Great Organ. Photo: AFP
 
Stained glass
 
The cathedral's three impressive stained glass circular rose windows were built in the 13th century and renovated several times. 
   
The one on the south appeared to be intact on Tuesday, as did another on the western facade which lies between the two stone towers which can be climbed by tourists on the front of the cathedral.
   
AFP was unable to verify the state of the northern window.
   
They show prophets, saints, angels, kings and scenes of the daily lives of holy figures. At the centre of each is an image of either the Virgin Mary, Christ as a baby or Christ as king reigning over heaven.
 
13-tonne bell
 
The largest and oldest of the cathedral's bells is known as the Bourdon Emmanuel. Cast 300 years ago, it weighs 13 tonnes, its clapper alone being 500 
kilogrammes (1,102 pounds).
 
The tenor bell, considered one of the finest examples in Europe, is chimed only on special occasions and important Catholic events, and was joined in 2013 by nine new bells.
 
It only just managed to avoid being melted down during the revolution and rang out to announce the liberation of Paris from German occupation in 1944.
 
The level of damage to the bells is not known but the cathedral's two square bell towers escaped relatively unscathed.
 
Photo: AFP
 
37 figures of Virgin Mary
 
A mid-14th century statue of the Virgin with Child, placed in the sanctuary, is the most famous of the 37 images of the Virgin Mary contained in the cathedral. 
   
Another depicts Mary holding the body of her son descended from cross, created by French sculptor Nicolas Coustou between 1712 and 1728 and positioned behind the choir altar.
 
It is not known how many, if any, of the images were damaged.
 
Bronze statues
 
One good piece of news is that 16 of the cathedral's bronze statues – representing the 12 apostles and the four evangelists from the New Testament – were removed in a rather dramatic fashion on Friday and are currently being stored in Bordeaux (see below). 
 
 
Photo: AFP
 
Paintings
 
Between 1630 and 1707 the Paris goldsmith guild presented the cathedral with a painting on every May 1. Of these 76 works called “The Mays”, 13 were 
displayed in various chapels in the cathedral.
   
On the west wall of the Chapel of Saint-Guillaume is the one of the most beautiful paintings in the cathedral, the “Visitation” by Jean-Baptiste Jouvenet (1716).

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

HISTORY

Notre-Dame restoration work begins as Paris cathedral on track to reopen in 2024

France's Notre-Dame cathedral is finally ready to undergo restoration work more than two years after a blaze ravaged the heritage landmark, and remains on course to reopen in 2024, authorities said Saturday, following months of painstaking work to secure the building.

Notre-Dame restoration work begins as Paris cathedral on track to reopen in 2024

The great mediaeval edifice survived the inferno on April 15th, 2019, but the spire collapsed and much of the roof was destroyed.

The focus until now had been on making the cathedral safe before restoration work could begin, which included the strenuous task of removing 40,000 pieces of scaffolding that were damaged in the blaze.

“The cathedral stands solid on its pillars, its walls are solid, everything is holding together,” said Jean-Louis Georgelin, head of the public entity tasked with rebuilding the cathedral.

Scaffolding in the interior of the building as the restoration phase begins. Photo by Thomas SAMSON / POOL / AFP

“We are determined to win this battle of 2024, to reopen our cathedral in 2024. It will be France’s honour to do so and we will do so because we are all united on this goal.”

The aim is to celebrate the first full service in the cathedral on April 16th, 2024 – five years after the fire – despite delays caused by the pandemic and the lead that spread during the blaze.

The Notre-Dame spire, a later addition to the medieval building, was completely destroyed in the blaze. Photos by AFP

Authorities will now call for tenders to select the companies to carry out the restoration work.

The cathedral’s interior walls and floors will also undergo “a thorough cleaning process” later this month.

Notre-Dame’s famous Grand Organ is already being restored, with its 8,000 pipes dismantled and sent to organ builders all over France.

It is expected to be put together again in October 2023, said Georgelin, the former head of France’s armed forces who was appointed by President Emmanuel Macron to oversee rebuilding efforts.

SHOW COMMENTS