A heroic priest risked his life as he ran into the burning Notre Dame to save priceless relics.
The 850-year-old cathedral was partially destroyed by a fire which began yesterday evening (April 15), and tore through the building, causing its roof and spire to collapse.
Firefighters have since managed to fully extinguish the blaze after working tirelessly throughout the night.
The Notre Dame was home to many precious items, including priceless works of art, architecture, musical instruments, statues, woodwork and religious relics. It was feared they’d be lost as the flames engulfed the building.
However, priest Jean-Marc Fournier, chaplain of the Paris Fire Brigade, bravely entered the cathedral alongside firefighters and made sure some of the religious artifacts, known as the Blessed Sacrament and the Crown of Thorns, were recovered.
The Crown of Thorns is purportedly a relic of the wreath of thorns which was placed on the head of Jesus Christ at his crucifixion. It was brought to Paris in 1238, by French monarch Louis IX.
According to Sky News, a member of the emergency services described Fournier as 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.
The Guardian report a plan to protect Notre Dame’s treasures had been rapidly and successfully activated when the building went up in flames, ensuring many of the priceless items were protected.
Les agents du @MinistereCC, épaulés par les équipes de l’archevêché, les @PompiersParis et les forces de sécurité, évacuent les œuvres se trouvant à l’intérieur de la cathédrale. Elles sont progressivement mises en sécurité. #NotreDame pic.twitter.com/iINHyUqJME
— Franck Riester (@franckriester) April 15, 2019
France’s culture minister, Franck Riester, tweeted [translated]:
The agents of the @MinistèreeCC, supported by the teams of the archbishop, the @PompiersParis and the security forces, evacuate the works located inside the cathedral. They are gradually made safe.
Some of the masterpieces saved by firefighters include The Great Organ, The Tunic of Saint Louis, and the North Rose Window.
Barbara Drake Boehm, senior curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s medieval Cloisters branch in New York, commented:
It’s not one relic, not one piece of glass, it’s the totality. It’s the very soul of Paris, but it’s not just for French people. For all humanity, it’s one of the great monuments to the best of civilisation.
If it weren’t for Fournier and the firefighters, all of the relics could have been lost forever. Their actions were truly incredible.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.