Saturday 21 September 2019

Fate of Notre Dame treasures: What was lost and what has survived the horrific blaze


Devastation: the damage inside the cathedral. Picture: AP
Devastation: the damage inside the cathedral. Picture: AP
Devastation: the outside of the building. Picture: PA
Devastation: before and after the fire. Picture: PA

Chiara Giordano

Several of the most sacred artefacts and objects housed at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris have been saved following the fire - but the fates of others are still unclear.

The 850-year-old Gothic cathedral was home to dozens of objects of cultural and historical significance, including the holy crown of thorns believed to have been worn by Jesus at his crucifixion and the tunic of Saint Louis. The French Interior Ministry announced yesterday that "the walls have been preserved and at least 30pc of the artworks have been saved", but the entire wooden structure, the spire and nearly 70pc of the artworks have gone forever.

More than 400 firefighters fought for 12 hours to bring the blaze under control.

Safe: Rose windows

NOTREDAME (74).jpg
Sparks and flames are seen through a destroyed stained glass window as the Notre Dame Cathedral burns in Paris, France, April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

Among the most famous architectural features of the Gothic masterpiece, the stained-glass rose windows are treasured artworks. The three rose windows, which date back to the 13th century, adorn the north, south and west facades. There were hopes the windows had escaped being destroyed by the fire after firefighters stopped its spread. Photos yesterday morning suggested the circular window of the nave had remained intact.

Destroyed: Irreplaceable wooden roof

Crowds of tourists and Parisians watched in horror as the roof of the cathedral came crashing down to the ground.

Safe: Descent from the cross

The cross and statue on Notre-Dame's high altar - sculpted by Nicolas Coustou in 1723 - were believed to have survived intact despite being surrounded by smoke and debris.

Safe: Great Organ

With nearly 8,000 pipes, some dating back to the 1700s, Notre Dame's master organ is one of the largest in the world.

The monumental instrument, the largest in France, was fully restored in 2013 with each pipe cleaned. Paris's deputy mayor, Emmanuel Gregoire, said the instrument remained intact following the fire.

Safe: Bells

Housed in the two western towers, Notre Dame's bells have rung out at key moments in France's history. Emmanuel, the largest bell, was lifted into the south tower in 1685 and weighs more than 23 tonnes. The fire was prevented from spreading to the bell towers.

Safe: Crown of thorns

World Gallery 9.jpg
French Archbishop Patrick Chauvet holds the Holy Crown of Thorns during a procession outside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris March 21, 2014. The presentation of the relic, which was woven from thorn branches and believed to have been placed on Jesus Christ during the events leading up to his crucifixion, forms part of ceremonies marking the 800th anniversary of the birth and baptism of Saint Louis. Reuters.

Believed to be a relic of the wreath of thorns placed on the head of Jesus Christ at his crucifixion, the object was stored in the cathedral's treasury.

French King (later Saint) Louis IX brought the relic, which is contained in an elaborate gold case, to Paris in 1238. The crown was saved and has been taken into safekeeping.

Safe: Tunic of Saint Louis

The tunic allegedly worn by the 13th-century French crusader king, Louis IX, who was made a saint, is displayed inside the Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral in Paris Photo by PATRICK KOVARIK / AFP)PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images

The tunic allegedly worn by Saint Louis IX as he brought the crown of thorns to Paris was kept inside the cathedral. It has been saved.

Safe: Statues on the roof

The week before the fire, religious statues set atop the cathedral were removed for the first time in more than 100 years as part of the restoration project. A 100m crane lowered the copper statues representing the 12 apostles and four evangelists onto a lorry.

Destroyed: Spire

The spire and parts of Notre Dame cathedral on fire (AP Photo/Dominique Bichon)

The spire toppled soon after it was engulfed by flames.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News