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How a Heroic Priest Helped Save the Crown of Thorns from the Notre-Dame Fire

The Afghanistan veteran also comforted injured people in the wake of Paris's 2015 terrorist attacks.
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Devout Catholics and art historians alike breathed a sigh of relief last night, when it was announced that the Crown of Thorns had survived the fire that consumed Notre-Dame Cathedral. This morning, the touching story of how it was saved came to light.

The Guardian reports that the Parisian fire brigade's chaplain, Jean-Marc Fournier, refused to remain outside the burning building, and insisted on joining in a human chain to rescue the religious relic. (The faithful believe that the artifact contains actual pieces of the crown worn by Jesus Christ ahead of his crucifixion.)

"Father Fournier is an absolute hero," an emergency worker said, per Newsweek. "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."

And this isn't even the first time Fournier has shown his courage. Following the attack on the Bataclan in 2015, Fournier prayed for those lost and tended to the injured. He also previously served in the French armed forces for seven years, which included time in Afghanistan.

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The safety of Crown of Thorns, as the cathedral's "most precious and most venerated relic," in the words of Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, was of chief concern. However, several other important relics have reportedly survived as well. According to the Guardian, the tunic of Saint Louis and the True Cross and Holy Nails have all survived the blaze.


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A view of Notre-Dame’s interior, following the fire.

Sadly, not everything made it—and authorities will likely be tallying the losses in the days in weeks to come. "We have avoided a complete disaster," Maxime Cumunel, secretary general of France’s Observatory for Religious Heritage, told the Guardian."But some five to 10 percent of the artwork has probably been destroyed, we have to face up to that."

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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Chloe Foussianes
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