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What was saved — and what was lost — in the Notre Dame Cathedral fire

Notre Dame's treasures survive fire
Crown of Thorns, stained glass windows survive Notre Dame Cathedral fire 02:19

As the smoke began to clear from the devastating fire at Paris' Notre Dame cathedral, the world's attention shifted to the irreplaceable collection of artifacts and cultural items inside the more than 800-year-old landmark. While some of the priceless collection was lost forever in the flames, other pieces were spared. Here's a rundown of what remains and what does not.

Crown of Thorns

The cathedral's most precious relic — the Crown of Thorns — was saved by quick-thinking heroes. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted that the relic, believed to have been worn by Jesus Christ at his crucifixion, was among the pieces rescued from the fire. 

Britain's Sky News and other outlets reported that Father Jean-Marc Fournier, chaplain of the Paris Fire Department, got closest to the danger zone in a human chain to retrieve the crown. The crown was obtained and brought to Paris in the 13th century by King Louis IX, who was later canonized as Saint Louis.

FILE PHOTO: The Holy Crown of Thorns is displayed during a ceremony at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
This 2014 file photo shows the Crown of Thorns displayed during a ceremony at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Philippe Wojazer / Reuters

The Great Organ

Emmanuel Gregoire, a deputy mayor of Paris, said the famed Great Organ from Notre Dame, among the most famous and largest such instruments in the world, remained intact after the devastating blaze. The Great Organ, one of two in the cathedral, was built by Francois Thierry in the mid-18th century. It has an estimated 8,000 pipes.

The Tunic of St. Louis 

The tunic of St. Louis, a centuries-old garment that was purported to have belonged to King Louis IX, was also rescued, according to Mayor Hidalgo. 

Altar and cross 

The cathedral's altar and a golden cross are still intact amid the scorched debris from the blaze. Photos showed both still standing along with many of the pews and surrounding statues. 

A picture taken on April 16, 2019, shows the altar surrounded by charred debris inside the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris in the aftermath of a fire. Getty

Rooftop statues

Call it luck, good timing, or maybe divine intervention, but 16 religious statues had been removed from around the spire of Notre Dame just last week as part of a $6.8 million renovation being done at the cathedral. The statues depict the 12 apostles and four evangelists. They had been taken down by crane from the upper reaches of the cathedral and transported to a workshop near Bordeaux.

The spire collapsed in the blaze, so if the statues had been left in place they likely would have been lost.

A picture taken in Marsac-sur-Isle near Bordeaux  shows statues which sat around the spire of the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, stored in SOCRA workshop before restoration. Getty

Stained glass windows

Audrey Azoulay, director of the United Nations cultural organization UNESCO, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that it's too early to say whether the treasured rose windows of Notre Dame survived unscathed, since art experts haven't been able to fully assess the site. Photos show some of the cathedral's elaborate stained glass windows still appear to be intact after the blaze. 

Firefighters outside the south transept rose window of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 16, 2019, in the aftermath of the fire. Getty

Other windows, however, sustained extensive damage or appear to have been completely lost to the fire.

Inspectors are seen on the roof of the landmark Notre Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 16, 2019, the day after a devastating fire destroyed much of the main roof.  Getty

Church treasures

Candelabras, gilded furniture and other valuable pieces retrieved from Notre Dame Cathedral were taken to city hall in Paris after the fire. French Culture Minister Franck Riester told reporters in Paris on Tuesday that all of the art and artifacts rescued from the  cathedral would be transferred to another Parisian landmark, the Louvre Museum, for safe keeping.

Saved treasures from Notre-Dame Cathedral are seen in a room at Paris city hall after a massive fire devastated large parts of the gothic cathedral in Paris
Saved treasures from Notre Dame Cathedral are seen in a room at Paris city hall on April 16, 2019, the after a massive fire devastated large parts of the Gothic cathedral. Reuters

Lost in fire: Spire and relics

The spire on top of the Notre Dame dramatically collapsed during the fire, which destroyed about two-thirds of the roof. Candida Moss, professor of theology at Britain's University of Birmingham, told "CBS This Morning" that sacred artifacts within the spire are also feared to be gone.

"What they didn't save were the relics that were in the spire of the cathedral itself," Moss said. "They had small portions of the relics of St. Denis and St. Genevieve in the spire that are presumed lost."

The elaborate Gothic spire of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, seen in a file photo at left, was was destroyed in a fire and completely collapsed on April 15, 2019. Getty Images (left); Reuters (right)

See more photos from Notre Dame Cathedral during and after the fire below.

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