‘It’s a Bit of a Miracle’: The Priceless Art and Relics Saved in the Notre-Dame Fire

April 16, 2019, 3:13 PM UTC

It’s rather staggering that Notre-Dame is standing at all on Tuesday morning after seeing flames shoot through the roof Monday. It’s also jaw dropping that firefighters were able to save so many of the church’s most precious objects.

“It’s a bit of a miracle; we are very relieved,” André Finot, a cathedral spokesman, told BFMTV, a 24-hour news channel in France.

Several artifacts are still unaccounted for after the fire, but many made it through unharmed. Firefighters worked in teams, some fighting the blaze while others rescued artwork and relics.

Late Tuesday, Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, shared a photo on Twitter, showing several saved objects, writing “The Crown of Thorns, the Tunic of Saint Louis and several other major works are now in a safe place”. And fundraising efforts for the church’s repair have already topped $600 million.

While the list of what was saved and what was lost is still incomplete, here’s a look at some of the major artifacts that survived the fire.

The Crown of Thorns

The cathedral’s most valued relic, this is the headpiece said to be worn by Jesus Christ before his crucifixion. It’s only shown publicly on the first Friday of each month and every Friday during Lent. It, alone, attracts up to 13 million visitors per year.

Tunic of Saint Louis

A garment thought to be worn by Louis IX when he brought the Crown of Thorns to Paris.

Rose Windows

One of the cathedral’s most famous features, these date back to the 13th century.

“From what I could see, the stained glass had not been touched, the three beautiful roses that date back to the 12th and 13th century were still there,” said Finot. “These are stained glass windows of the 19th century, much less important that may have been touched, but not the jewels of the 13th century, it’s a bit of a miracle, we are very relieved.”

Great Organ

Dating back to the 1700s, this is one of largest organs in the world, with nearly 8,000 pipes. It was fully restored just six years ago. There is still concern that the heat, smoke and water could have lasting effects on the instrument.

Notre-Dame Bells

Quasimodo still has a job, as the famous bells, the largest of which has been ringing in major moments in French history since 1685, are safe. Firefighters prevented the flames from reaching the bell towers. The bells will ring Wednesday at 6:50pm (Paris time), the time the fire broke out Monday.

Bronze statues of the Twelve Apostles

Just last week, these statues from the 12th and 13th century were located on the cathedral’s spire, which collapsed in the fire yesterday. However, they were removed recently for restoration, which ultimately saved them.


Certainly not all paintings were saved from the fire. Those that were, including the ‘Mays of Notre Dame,’ are expected to be removed in the coming days, transported to the Louvre, where they will be dehumidified, protected and restored.

Still unaccounted for, though, are a fragment of the True Cross and one of the Holy Nails from the crucifixion.