On Monday, Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris began to burn. Images and videos circulated online, showing extensive damage to the structure, which was first built in 1163 by Pope Alexander III. As the fire continued, it became clear that much of the cathedral had likely been destroyed.
“Everything is burning; nothing will remain from the frame,” Notre-Dame spokesman André Finot said, according to the New York Post.
But some of the most prized artworks inside the cathedral will be saved, said Jean-Claude Gallet, commander general of the Paris Fire Brigade. “We are evacuating the most precious artwork that is being sheltered,” Gallet told CNN. Per the Irish Times, over 400 firefighters responded to the fire.
Some of the treasured items housed in the cathedral include a reliquary that holds the crown of thorns; three Easter relics; and famous 16th- and 17th-century artworks, including Nicolas Coustou’s sculpture Descent From the Cross, Jean Jouvenet’s painting The Visitation, and Antoine Nicolas’s painting Saint Thomas Aquinas, Fountain of Wisdom. A great organ, constructed sometime in the 13th century and equipped with over 8,000 pipes, is also inside. For a complete breakdown of the art, see a list of the cathedral’s collection here.
Not everything could be saved. According to reporters at the scene, the parts of the cathedral that date back to the 12th and 13th centuries have been lost. The three iconic rose windows — the west (made in 1225), north (1250), and south (1260) — reportedly have not survived the fire, and the cathedral roof, constructed from 5,000 oak trees, was also destroyed.
The Vatican has released a statement. “The Holy See has learned with shock and sadness the news of the terrible fire that has devastated the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, symbol of Christianity in France and in the world,” it read. “We express our closeness to the French Catholics and to the people of Paris. We pray for the firefighters and for all those who are doing everything possible to face this dramatic situation.”