Jean-Marc Fournier risked his life during the Notre Dame fire to save the cathedral’s priceless artifacts.
The historic Notre Dame Cathedral caught fire late Monday afternoon, much to the watching world’s horror. Fournier, the chaplain of Paris fire service, dashed into the burning building to preserve the ancient relics. The fire lasted for more than nine hours before being stopped by around 400 firefighters.
Most notably, he assisted the police and other officials in saving the Crown of Thorns, which some believe was worn by Jesus Christ. The Crown of Thornes is considered to be the cathedral’s “most precious and most venerated relic,” according to CNN.
In addition to the treasured crown, other artifacts saved included the holy sacrament and the tunic of Saint Louis, both of which are currently being held at Paris City Hall. Other works of art will be held at the Louvre museum, Culture Minister Franck Riester told CNN.
.Fournier is no stranger to tragedies. He has previously served as military chaplain in Afghanistan and also assisted victims after the November 2015 terrorist attacks in France. After both the attack and the fire at Notre Dame, Fournier showed humanity’s brighter side through compassion and empathy. In 2015 he assisted with evacuation and held prayers and vigils, and in 2019 he went into a burning building to assist firefighters and save precious pieces of history.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that Etienne Loraillère, the director of the French Catholic television network KTO, and others have publicly praised Fournier for his bravery and made him a social media celebrity.
Currently, officials believe the fire was accidental and possibly due to an electrical short-circuit, not another terrorist attack, though investigations are still underway. Notre Dame was undergoing renovations when the flames began in the attic. The fire was difficult to contain due to the wooden structures, some of which were built in the 12th century. Unfortunately, the building’s framework, older roof, and its famous spire have been irreparably damaged.
However, thanks to the fast-acting, brave firefighters and Fournier, much of the structure remains intact, including the eminent rose windows.
There is more good news: the fire is completely out and the cathedral can only be improved from here. French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to “rebuild Notre Dame even more beautiful" and would like to see these repairs completed within the next five years. While it may take longer than five years to rebuild, French business leaders and businesses have pledged $700 million in donations, according to CNN.
The Cathedral is a symbol of France, so the world can rest assured that Notre Dame is here to stay. The best of humanity comes out after a disaster, and Notre Dame is no different: the fire allowed people to come together in solidarity. France will have a chance to build something new, and like a phoenix rising from the ashes, it’s sure to be memorable for generations to come.