Hero priest Jean-Marc Fournier is credited with rushing into the burning cathedral of Notre Dame and helping save one of Christendom’s most precious relics: The crown of thorns.
It’s not the first time that Fournier has provided comfort to Paris. A chaplain in Paris to the fire service, he aided victims of the 2015 terror attacks. (It’s suspected that the Notre Dame fire was an accident possibly linked to renovations underway.)
The crown is believed to contain fragments of the actual braided circle that Jesus Christ wore on his head on the way to the Crucifixion. As such, although it hasn’t been authenticated, the crown of thorns is one of Christianity’s most precious treasures. In helping save the crown, Fournier rescued what the cathedral’s website calls its “most precious and most venerated relic.”
When the orange flames licked into the sky from the beloved landmark, Jean-Marc Fournier sprang into action.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Hero Priest ‘Showed No Fear at All’ as He Headed ‘Straight for the Relics’
When Jean-Marc Fournier entered the cathedral, he made a beeline for the most precious relics inside of it, including the crown of thorns, according to multiple published reports.
The hero priest is being praised for saving the Crown of Thorns. According to one French journalist, Father Jean-Marc Fournier, Chaplain of the @PompiersParis, “went with firefighters in the Cathedral #NotreDame to save the Crown of thorns and the Blessed Sacrament.”
According to the Irish station NewsTalk, the Crown of Thorns “was brought to Paris by French King Louis IX 1238. The Church believes it is a relic of the wreath of thorns placed on the head of Jesus Christ at his crucifixion.”
“Father Fournier is an absolute hero,” a member of the emergency services said to the station. “He showed no fear at all as he made straight for the relics inside the cathedral, and made sure they were saved. He deals with life and death every day, and shows no fear.”
The Priest Has Served in Afghanistan
According to CNN, Jean-Marc Fournier was headquartered in Germany before becoming the Paris fire service chaplain.
He “has also served in the Diocese of the French Armed Forces in Afghanistan,” the cable news network reports.
Metro reports that the priest didn’t hesitate when the fire broke out at Notre Dame. Paris’ 15th district mayor Philippe Goujon told reporters that Fournier “insisted on being allowed to enter the edifice with fire fighters and played a role in the relic’s rescue.”
The Crown of Thorns Was One of Several Religious Relics Saved
Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, confirmed on Twitter that the Crown of Thorns was saved – along with other religious relics.
“Thanks to the @PompiersParis, the police and the municipal agents who realized tonight a formidable human chain to save the works of #OurDame. The crown of thorns, the tunic of Saint Louis and several other major works are now in a safe place,” she wrote on Twitter. Msgr. Patrick Chauvet, the cathedral’s rector also confirmed to The New York Times that the Crown of Thorns was saved, along with the tunic and “a collection of chalices.”
The official newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin explains the history of the Crown of Thorns, writing, “Napoleon saved the crown of thorns and it was kept at the National Library until 1804. At that time, Christ’s crown was returned to the Archbishops of Paris and, in Aug. 10, 1806, was placed in the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris.”