A white marble sculpture of the Virgin Mary cradling Jesus’ body that graces the high altar of Notre Dame Cathedral miraculously survived the massive fire that ripped through the 850-year-old Paris landmark.
Photographs taken in the aftermath of the catastrophic blaze show the 1725 Pietà statue, “Descent from the Cross,” by French sculptor Nicolas Coustou, rising covered in ashes but intact out of a pile of charred rubble inside the sanctuary.
It was just one of many priceless pieces inside the historic Gothic cathedral feared lost forever in the Monday fire.
But while firefighters, clergy and city workers rushed in to rescue many of the precious works as the building burned Monday, the fate of many items remained hazy as the smoke cleared Tuesday.
France’s culture minister Franck Riester said the main items in the 12th century Gothic monument’s treasury were safe.
They included its most prized relic — the crown of thorns said to have been placed on Jesus’ head before his crucifixion, which was saved by the Paris Fire Brigade’s heroic chaplain.
Other relics saved included a piece of wood and a nail purported to be from the cross on which Jesus was crucified, along with the tunic of Saint Louis — worn by 13th-century French King Louis IX, who brought the crown of thorns to Paris and was later made a saint, he said.
The items were moved from Paris City Hall to the Louvre Tuesday, he said.
Incredibly, a metal rooster that sat atop the 300-foot spire did survive the disaster.
A worker found the cock while combing through the debris, and the item is “dented but properly restorable,” a Ministry of Culture source told Le Parisien newspaper.
However, the fate of three other holy items that were in the rooster that collapsed in the roaring flames remained in doubt, because the sculpture was smashed in, the source added.
They included a fragment of the crown of thorns and relics from Saint Denis and Saint Genevieve — two of Paris’ most cherished saints.
“They were placed at the summit of the church in 1935 by the archbishop of Paris, to protect the building,” Laurent Ferri, the former heritage conservator at the French National Archives, told USA Today.
Thirteen large paintings of religious scenes dating from between 1630 and 1707 known as “The Mays” hung in the cathedral. At least some have been saved — alongside one of the most prized works in the house of worship, a 1716 piece called “The Visitation” by Jean Jouvenet, according to Le Monde.
But Maxime Cumunel, the secretary general of France’s Observatory for Religious Heritage, said that four of the Mays paintings had been damaged.
“We have avoided a complete disaster. But some five to 10 percent of the artwork has probably been destroyed,” Cumunel said.
Riester said the paintings in the building weren’t torched in the inferno, but suffered water and smoke damage. They will also be sent to the Louvre for restoration, he said.
The cathedral’s three famed stained-glass Rose windows, which date back to the 13th century, also “had apparently not suffered catastrophic damage,” Riester said.
Also “affected” was the cathedral’s largest pipe organ — the Great Organ, which was completed in 1868 and features almost 8,000 pipes, he said.
Longtime Notre Dame organist Philippe Lefebvre told AFP the instrument wasn’t burned, but had been showered with water and rubble, which could cause problems.
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