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Fire chaplain saves religious artifacts at Notre Dame Cathedral

Fire chaplain saves religious artifacts

Father Jean-Marc Fournier, left, chaplain of the Paris Fire Brigade, smiled as he talked with French journalists at a Paris fire station April 17, 2019. The priest led the effort to save religious artifacts from Notre Dame Cathedral during the April 15 fire.
Photo Credit: Paul Haring | Catholic News Service
PARIS — A hero emerging from the Notre Dame Cathedral fire April 15 is Father Jean-Marc Fournier, chaplain of the Paris Fire Brigade, who is credited with saving a reliquary containing the crown of thorns and the Blessed Sacrament from the burning cathedral.

The fire chaplain reportedly demanded to be allowed into the cathedral along with firefighters to retrieve the cathedral’s relics.

The priest was said to be at the top, or “hot end” of the human chain that included city workers and church caretakers who entered the burning cathedral to save irreplaceable religious items and pieces of art.

French Culture Minister Franck Riester said the saved items include the crown of thorns said to have been worn by Jesus before his crucifixion and a tunic once worn by St. Louis in the 13th century.

During the night of April 15, before the flames were extinguished, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted an image of the saved artifacts that were initially transferred to the city hall before being moved to the Louvre.

“Thank you to the Paris Fire Brigade, the police, and municipal agents who made a formidable human chain to save the works of Notre Dame,” she said, noting that the crown of thorns, the tunic of St. Louis, and several other major works “are now in a safe place.”

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