There’s a sense of relief among Parisians and tourists after a 12-hour fire left the Notre Dame Cathedral wounded but still significantly intact.
Parisians watched in heartache Monday as 850-plus years of art, faith and culture blazed at Notre Dame Cathedral. The spire fell. The roofing was ravaged. But then, after officials announced late Monday that the cathedral would survive, signs of hope surfaced among the damage.
The cathedral’s golden altar cross was seen standing as officials surveyed the charred structure. Votive candles lit prior to the blaze — each one symbolizing a prayer — still flickered undisturbed in the cathedral, CNN reported.
“Notre Dame was destroyed but the soul of France was not,” Michel Aupetit, archbishop of Paris, told RMC radio.
Not all was lost, surveyors found. And many of the cathedral’s greatest treasures were safe. Here are hopeful signs of what’s survived in the Notre Dame fire.
A human chain saved divine relics
The cathedral housed relics believed to stretch back to the earliest days of Christianity, such the Crown of Thorns associated with Christ. Jean-Francois Martins, Paris’ deputy mayor of tourism, told “CBS This Morning” that workers with the church formed “a human chain” to save the cathedral’s relics amid the blaze.
“Very quickly a team was fully dedicated to save all these holy pieces, and specifically the relics and the crown,” Martins said. “Everything is safe and undamaged, and in our really bad day, we had one good news.”
The St. Louis Tunic, a garment worn by the 13th-century French king, was also saved, fire officials told France’s BFM-TV, along with several chalices, while some works unable to be removed were sheltered.
Rose windows and organ appear safe
The building’s 13th-century rose windows, called “one of the greatest masterpieces of Christianity” by the cathedral, appeared to have survived, cathedral spokesman André Finot told BFM-TV.
“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,” he said.
The cathedral’s famous 18th century organ and its 8,000 pipes also survived, officials said.
Statues of saints were spared
While the cathedral’s 295-foot spire collapsed in Monday’s fire, copper statues representing the 12 apostles and four evangelists that stood around it did not. They had been removed before the fire broke out as part of a $6.8 million renovation project. Other statues about the cathedral appeared to have survived, too.
“You can still see that the statue of the Virgin Mary is still standing,” Paris resident Catherine Oudot, 63, told USA TODAY, noting the building’s facade.
“It’s a relief to know that it survived. Notre Dame isn’t just a Christian landmark or a cultural landmark. It’s an absolute symbol for us, for France.”
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