The Latest: Crown of Thorns presented at Paris service
PARIS (AP) — The Latest on the fire that ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris (all times local):
The Crown of Thorns relic saved from the fire at Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral has been presented to worshippers at special Good Friday ceremony.
Many believe the crown was placed on the head of Jesus at his crucifixion. It is made of rushes wrapped into a wreath and tied with gold filament. Parts of the purported crown are also held in other locations.
A public veneration of the crown is normally part of the ceremonies leading up to Easter at Notre Dame. But because of this week’s devastating fire at Notre Dame, the crown was shown at a service Friday evening at the nearby Saint-Sulpice Church.
Firefighters rescued the crown and other treasures held in the 12th-century Notre Dame as its spire collapsed and roof burned away Monday.
The cathedral’s rector told The Associated Press that nothing inside was damaged except for the altar. Patrick Chauvet said Good Friday this year was special “because I believe that from this suffering there will be a renaissance.”
Architects and construction workers have now stabilized the damaged structure of Notre Dame cathedral, four days after a fast-spreading fire ravaged the iconic Paris building.
A fire brigade spokesman says firefighters will leave the site sometime Friday night.
Lt. Col. Gabriel Plus told The Associated Press that “there is no more risk the edifice’s walls could fall down.” He says firefighters have been able to cool down the walls and debris that fell inside the cathedral from the roof.
He says “it’s a miracle that the cathedral is still standing, and that all the relics were saved,” he said.
The fire Monday night burned through the network of enormous centuries-old oak beams supporting the monument’s vaulted stone ceiling, dangerously weakening the building.
The Paris fire brigade spokesman says Notre Dame Cathedral has been secured and firefighters will leave the site on Friday night.
Lt. Colonel Gabriel Plus told The Associated Press that “there is no more risk the edifice’s walls could fall down.”
He added that firefighters have been able to cool down the cathedral’s walls and the debris from the roof that fell inside the cathedral.
Plus said “It’s a miracle that both chapels on the side and the crypt remain untouched.”
The cathedral in the heart of Paris was devastated by a fire Monday evening that raced through its massive wooden roof. Firefighters have been credited with preventing the building from burning to the ground in a “chain-reaction collapse” by aggressively protecting the wooden supports in its twin medieval bell towers from the flames.
The UN’s cultural agency said the reconstruction of Notre Dame must protect the universal value of the site but that it doesn’t mean the cathedral must be rebuilt exactly as it was.
A delegation from UNESCO, which oversees global heritage issues, met with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Friday.
According to Macron’s office, UNESCO representatives said they were ready to help with the reconstruction of Notre Dame, especially by providing technical expertise.
UNESCO director-general Audrey Azoulay said the monument’s “integrity and authenticity” must be respected, since it’s a World Heritage site, but that doesn’t mean the site must remain unchanged. The comments were reported by Macron’s office.
UNESCO formally recognizes the right of each generation to participate in humanity’s heritage “including through adaptation to natural and historic processes of change and transformation” and “new possibilities offered by evolving technologies.”
The Paris prosecutor’s office is urging those making donations for the reconstruction of Notre Dame cathedral to be careful about scams aimed at extorting their money.
It says the Fondation du Patrimoine, one of the organizations collecting funds to rebuild the iconic monument, has filed a lawsuit after individuals “fraudulently” solicited money using its name through emails or phone calls. The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation centered on the charge of conspiracy to defraud.
Officials say $1 billion in donations has already been pledged to rebuild Notre Dame, sent in by people ranging from ordinary citizens to billionaires.
Top French art conservation officials say the works inside Notre Dame suffered no major damage in the fire that devastated the cathedral, and the pieces have been removed from the building for their protection.
Isabelle Palot-Frossat of the center for research at the French Museums said neither fire, nor soot, nor water reached inside the cathedral’s walls. The fierce fire Monday evening was concentrated on the cathedral’s roof and destroyed its famous spire.
Judith Kagan of the French Culture Ministry said that many of the artworks span several meters (yards) across and were being transported to a secure location.
Frank Riester, France’s culture minister, said the cathedral’s vaulted ceiling is still “in an emergency situation.” Officials will have to carefully remove the debris that is weighing it down, cover the ceiling against the elements and dismantle the scaffolding that had topped the cathedral when it caught fire.
He said the building survey “will take several days or weeks.”
— This item has corrected the quote on soot to Isabelle Palot-Frossat.
The 180,000 bees kept in hives in Notre Dame Cathedral that were thought to have perished in this week’s fire have been discovered alive.
The monument’s beekeeper, Nicolas Geant, told the AP Friday: “I am so relieved. I saw satellite photos that showed the three hives didn’t burn. I thought they had gone with the cathedral.”
Geant has looked after the bees since 2013 when they were installed on the lead roofing of the famed monument as part of a city-wide initiative to boost declining bee numbers.
Geant explained the insects have no lungs. Instead of killing them, the carbon dioxide in the smoke puts them into a sedated state. He said when bees sense fire they “gorge themselves on honey” and protect their queen. He said European bees never abandon their hives.
The rector of Notre Dame says a “computer glitch” might have caused the fire that ravaged a large part of the cathedral this week.
Speaking during a meeting of local business owners, Patrick Chauvet did not elaborate on the glitch, adding that “we maybe find out what happened in two or three months.”
Le Parisien newspaper has reported that investigators are looking at whether the fire could have been linked to a computer glitch, or related to the temporary elevators used in the renovation work, among other things.
Chauvet added that investigators are still unable to access the cathedral’s nave for security reasons.
French President Emmanuel Macron is hosting officials from the United Nations’ cultural agency, where he is expected to set out ideas for the reconstruction of Notre Dame Cathedral.
He will meet with state delegates from UNESCO, which oversees global heritage issues, in the Elysee Palace Friday.
Macron’s push for a speedy rebuild indicates he wants the fire-ravaged monument’s reconstruction to be part of his legacy, and is seizing the moment to try to move on from the divisive yellow vest protests. His initial wish for it to be rebuilt in just five years was met with incredulity.
Macron had been due to deliver an uneasy speech Monday setting out long-awaited plans to quell anti-government protests that have marred his presidency, but it was postponed after the fire broke out.
Read and watch all AP coverage of the Notre Dame fire at https://apnews.com/NotreDameCathedral