What Survived the Notre Dame Cathedral Fire

Inside the Notre Dame Cathedral on Tuesday.
Inside the still-smoldering church on Tuesday. Getty

A glimmer of hope rises from the ashes of Notre Dame fire.

A glimmer of hope rose Tuesday from the smoldering ashes of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, where a raging inferno scarred the beloved house of worship. 

The first stone of the iconic Catholic church was laid in 1163, and Notre Dame has been the center of religious and cultural life in France. Its influence has spread across the world through art and literature, including the famous work by Victor Hugo "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

During the French Revolution in the 1790s, the church was desecrated with the destroying of religious imagery. Over its 850 years, the cathedral has been the site of the crowning of kings, the marriage of nobles, and the celebration of the liberation of Paris. The iconic spire that stands tall above Notre Dame's front towers was first erected in the 13th century and recreated in the 19th century. It collapsed Monday under the heat of the flames.

Now, officials are trying to discover what caused Monday's massive blaze. 

Several works of art and religious relics are housed in Notre Dame. Here are a few of those priceless items that are known to have survived, as well as a group of paintings that are currently unaccounted for. 

Crown of Thorns

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Inside Notre Dame is what is believed to be the Crown of Thorns, which Christians believe was placed on Jesus' head before his crucifixion. It is kept inside a gold and glass ring. It is only occasionally displayed, such as during Lent, the time leading up to Easter. The high Catholic holiday is next week.

A human chain of firefighters saved the relic. 

True Cross

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There is also a piece of the True Cross, believed to be the cross that Jesus was nailed to. It is preserved in a crystal case and is about 9 inches long. Firefighters were able to safely remove the artifact, according to French media reports.

Holy Nail

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A roughly 3-inch nail is kept inside Notre Dame, believed to be one used to nail Jesus to the cross. The relic is preserved inside a crystal tube. The nail was saved from inside the church, according to French media reports. 

Stained Glass

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Notre Dame is famous for its vibrant and intricate stained glass windows. Most notably, there are three rose windows on the north, south and west sides of the cathedral. The windows appear to have survived, but they have not yet been inspected for damage. 

The Great Organ

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A grand organ sits under the west rose window in Notre Dame. It is the largest in France with five keyboards and nearly 8,000 pipes. It was not burned in the fire, but whether it can still be played is not clear. It was built around 1403.


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The cathedral displays several paintings from the 1600s and 1700s. They include depictions of significant moments in the Catholic faith, including The Visitation, when Mary delivered the news that she was pregnant with Jesus to her relative Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist.

An unknown number of artworks and sculptures were carried across the Seine to Paris' town hall, officials said. It is not yet known if these paintings survived.