Nearly one year after a fire ravaged the famed Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the city’s archbishop will this Good Friday briefly return to the cathedral its most prized relic, the Crown of Thorns. Source: Crux.
By Elise Ann Allen, Crux
On April 15, 2019, the day after Holy Week began, a massive fire sparked by renovations and fuelled by a lattice of centuries-old timbers, burned through the roof of the ancient cathedral and much of its vaulting, collapsing the Parisian icon’s famed spire.
Despite the fast-burning blaze, several treasures housed in the cathedral were saved thanks to the quick action of firefighters, priests and municipal workers, who formed a human chain and passed the relics out hand-to-hand, trying to beat the flames.
Among the most prized items salvaged was the Crown of Thorns, which was temporarily stored at the Louvre museum; it’s believed to be the one placed on Jesus’s head before his crucifixion. The tunic of St Louis IX, a lengthy shirt-like garment dating to the 13th century and believed to have belonged to the French monarch, was also saved.
Made of rushes wrapped into a wreath and tied with gold filament, the crown was brought to Paris by Louis in the 13th century. Since 1896, it has been kept in a protective glass case, and rarely displayed.
Prior to the fire, the Notre Dame cathedral would traditionally display the Crown of Thorns every Friday during Lent, including Good Friday, at 3pm, the traditional time of Jesus’ death. Due to last year’s blaze, this year the weekly Friday veneration was done at the Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois church in Paris.
However, Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit will briefly return the crown to Notre Dame for an hour of veneration on Good Friday.
During the ceremony, Archbishop Aupetit will venerate the crown himself, after which there will be a period of meditation and with the intermittent reading of texts and music. The event will be broadcast live on French television since public gatherings have been banned due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.