All the priceless artifacts inside Notre Dame that could be lost forever in the fire
It took a 12-hour battle involving 400 firefighters to extinguish the blaze fully on Tuesday, April 16, morning. The cathedral’s two 69-metre bell towers remain intact, but the spire and roof have been lost.
In a piece of news that shocked the world, Notre Dame Cathedral, a church that's over 850-years-old located in the heart of Paris caught on fire on April 15. According to a spokesperson present at the scene of the fire, after the iconic spire collapsed, chances are high that the church's iconic frame might not even survive. It took more than a 12-hour battle involving 400 firefighters to extinguish the blaze till Tuesday morning. Reports state that the cathedral’s two 69-meter bell towers remain intact, but the spire and roof have been lost.
It is being also claimed that the damages will take a few days to be properly assessed, and only after that will the world be able to find out what has survived the inferno and what has been destroyed, since the historic monument contained relics of the patron saints of Paris to the largest organ in France, and all of which is priceless.
Here's a complete list of all the artifacts that firefighters are trying to salvage from the blaze:
A tiny piece of the Crown of Thorns
The Notre Dame was home to a tiny piece of the Crown of Thorns that Jesus wore during his crucifixion. It was being kept at the treasury at Notre Dame. The crown is a sacred relic and is believed to have been worn by Jesus. It was stored out of the sight of visitors at the end of the nave of the cathedral. The crown consists of a ring of rushes gathered together and bound by gold threads and enclosed in a gold and glass frame. The spines on the rushes are no longer present, having been given to emperors and kings in exchange for donations.
The Rose Window
The stunning stained glass window at Notre Dame, the Rose Window, consists of three round windows that date back to 1260. Reports from local media state that the upper window is completely melted, while the fate of the lower half is still not clear.
The Great Organ
The cathedral is also home to the Great Organ, or the largest organ in France, that boasts of five keyboards and around 8,000 pipes. The organ dates to the 1730s and was constructed by Francois Thierry. It has been modified through the years and was completely restored in 1992. The position of titular organist, or head organist, carries great prestige in France and around the world. Reports have confirmed that the Great Organ has been spared from the blaze and is unharmed.
The entire interior of the legendary cathedral is adorned with priceless paintings, with the artwork 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.
Moreover, one series of 76 paintings, each nearly four meters tall, commemorates the New Testament's Acts of the Apostles, including the crucifixion of St. Peter and the conversion of St. Paul. The works were reportedly completed between 1630 and 1707 by the members or associates of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. There is special concern regarding the paintings as The Archbishop of Paris, talking to French TV station BFM, said: "Some paintings are impossible to remove." He added: "The damage is unthinkable because the paintings that could be removed, have been removed, but the paintings that are fixed to the walls in a certain way, you can not remove them just like that. It is a complicated situation, so I do not know in what state they are."
The bells at Notre Dame
Notre Dame is the home of 10 bells that weigh up to four tons each. The oldest bell, named Emmanuel, has been inside the cathedral since 1861, and has tolled for momentous historic occasions, such as the end of World War II, as well as holidays and special occasions. The others are named Marie, Gabriel, Anne-Geneviève, Denis, Marcel, Etienne, Benoît-Joseph, Maurice, and Jean-Marie.
A fragment of the True Cross
The iconic church is also the custodian of pieces of the cross that Jesus was believed to be crucified on, along with one of the nails. These relics were put on display by church officials 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.
The church's gargoyles and chimeras
The iconic statues representing the 12 Apostles that were present in the cathedral had been removed only last week, but there are numerous other important 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.
Statues inside the church
Apart from the statues outside, the Notre Dame has statues inside the cathedral 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.
Notre Dame's iconic spire
The cathedral also housed relics of both Saint Denis and Saint Genevieve, both of whom were 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. However, it is unfortunate that the spire could not be saved as it crumbled in the blaze.
About 80 years into construction, builders noted fissures on the high stone walls and incorporated flying buttresses to balance the pressure and let light into the dark cathedral.
Many of the religious relics, from communion chalices to vials of saintly blood, are kept in the small Treasure Room that visitors could pay around $5 to see.