This photo tweeted by Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo shows artifacts saved from the fire at Notre Dame cathedral, Tuesday April, 16, 2019. An inferno that raged through Notre Dame Cathedral for more than 12 hours destroyed its spire and its roof, but the twin medieval bell towers were spared, and a frantic rescue effort saved its "most precious treasures," including the Crown of Thorns purportedly worn by Jesus, officials said Tuesday. (Twitter via AP)
Artifacts saved from the fire at Notre-Dame cathedral © AP

As Paris firefighters announced they had finally extinguished the vast blaze that destroyed the lead-covered wooden roof of Notre-Dame cathedral, government and church authorities said more of the monument’s architectural, artistic and religious treasures had been saved from the flames than they previously dared hope.

The stone structures of the building, including the two bell-towers straddling the main entrance, are largely intact. Laurent Nuñez, junior interior minister, said it was a close thing, and the more than 400 firefighters at the scene saved the towers with only a quarter or half an hour to spare.

But the vaulted stone ceiling was severely holed in three places, including where the great wood and metal spire plunged in flames through the centre of the roof about an hour after the fire was detected. As for the works of art inside the building, the “majority were not damaged”, Mr Nuñez said.

FILE PHOTO: The Holy Crown of Thorns is displayed during a ceremony at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris March 21, 2014. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Photo
The Holy Crown of Thorns © Reuters

Precious Roman Catholic relics were rescued from Notre-Dame during the fire and taken to the city hall for safekeeping. They include the crown of thorns supposedly worn by Jesus as he was crucified and which was brought to France from Byzantium by King Louis IX, later Saint Louis. The crown is now encased in a glass tube and decorated with gold.

(FILES) This file photo taken on February 1, 2004 shows the organ of Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral, one of the most famous in the World. - Paris was struck in its very heart as flames devoured the roof of Notre-Dame cathedral, causing a spire to collapse and raising fears over the future of the nearly millenium old building and its precious artworks. Around 400 firefighters battled through the night, declaring only at around 10 am on April 16 that the fire had finally been extinguished but French Culture minister warned that the structure remained unstable and that no one had yet been able to fully inspect the extent of the fire and water damage inside. the organ appeared to have been "badly damaged" as had many paintings and frescos. (Photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP)STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images
The great organ © AFP

Organists around the world have long coveted the chance to play Notre-Dame’s great organ, for which church officials said there was a two-and-a-half year waiting list before the fire. With five keyboards and almost 8,000 pipes, the great organ was the largest of the cathedral’s three such instruments. It escaped total destruction but was likely to have been damaged by debris, dust and water, Notre-Dame organist Philippe Lefèvre told AFP.

Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral. South transept rose window. UNESCO World Heritage Site. Paris, France Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral. France, gothic. EDITORIAL STOCK PHOTO Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral. DOWNLOAD PREVIEW Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral. South transept rose window. UNESCO World Heritage Site. Paris, France Photo Taken On: September 08th, 2014 dame cathedral rose,heritage site,rose window,south transept,cathedral,dame,france,notre,paris,rose,south,transept,window,apostle,architectural,architecture,art,beautiful,blue,bright,christ,christianity,church,colorful More ID 48659431 © Wieslaw Jarek/ 2 112 1
The rose window in the south transept

Small windows high in the structure could be seen shattered by the fire, but the three great medieval rose windows on the west, north and south sides apparently did not suffer catastrophic damage, said Franck Riester, France’s culture minister. The three represent Mary the Virgin, the baby Jesus, and Christ in his majesty, and the two largest are nearly 13 metres across.

Jean Jouvenet, The Magnificat (The Visitation), 1716, Notre-Dame, Paris. PARIS, FRANCE, APRIL 04, 2017 : interiors decor of notre dame de Paris cathedral, april 04, 2017, in Paris, France
Jean Jouvenet, The Magnificat (The Visitation), 1716, Notre-Dame © Photogolfer/Dreamstime

Mr Riester said a number of large paintings in the body of the cathedral that were too large to be removed during the fire would be taken away on Friday morning once the building had been surveyed and made safe. They include vast canvases in honour of the Virgin Mary offered in the 17th century by the goldsmiths’ guild. They had not been burnt but were damaged by smoke and water, Mr Riester said.

PARIS - MARCH 21: 'Statue of St. Denis Preaching the Faith' by French sculptor Nicolas Coustou in the north transept inside of Notre-Dame Cathedral on March 21, 2017 in Paris, FR. (Photo by Waring Abbott/Getty Images)
Statue of St Denis © Getty

A statue of St Denis, the patron Saint of Paris, ‘Preaching the Faith’ by the Baroque French sculptor Nicolas Coustou. The statue was in the north transept inside the cathedral.

A view of the tunic allegedly worn by Saint Louis on display inside the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral in Paris on November 29, 2012. AFP PHOTO / PATRICK KOVARIK (Photo credit should read PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)
The tunic of St Louis © AFP

The tunic of St Louis is said to have belonged to Louis IX, king of France from 1226 until 1270 when he died while on crusade. Louis was canonised in 1297 and his tunic was revered as a relic and kept in the treasury of Notre-Dame.

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