Cheryl is a licensed/ordained minister who researches and writes stories on Christian history.
The Notre Dame Fire
On Monday, April 15, news media around the world, shared the disturbing news that the Cathedral of Notre Dame caught fire. The images of the inflamed gothic structure were indeed troubling to view. As I flipped channels, the announcer on ABC said that it is believed the crown of thorns worn by Christ on the cross was inside of the burning building.
It is alleged that in 1239, King Louis IX purchased the crown of thorns and on the 800th anniversary of his christening, which was Friday, March 21, 2014, the relic was presented at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. It was to be displayed for three days at the Collegiate Church of Poissy, where King Louis IX was christened. There are photo's of the crown of thorns, encased in a golden tube, but no specific information on what happened to it after that point. It was reported that bystanders were concerned that the religious artifact may have been in the burning cathedral.
Fire Can't Destroy the Spirit
The fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral is tragic and people are mourning around the world. CNN, continued into the evening to show thousands of the faithful gathered at the site of the fire. They sang hymns for hours as they watched the iconic building burning. Many were crying and others praying, which indicates that although the structure may be destroyed, the fire cannot touch the spirit. CNN stated that no deaths or have been reported and only one firefighter was injured. Wolf Blitzer reported that the museum which houses a number of Catholic relics was in the front of the church, which suggested that some or all of the items of faith may have been spared or saved.
When my daughter lived in Germany, she visited the Notre Dame Cathedral in 2007. She spoke of the beauty of the structure, inside and out and actually, got to view the crown of thorns for herself. CNN and ABC news reports both indicate that many of the faithful who have gathered in Paris were wondering if indeed this beloved artifact was indeed still inside the building.
History of the Crown of Thorns
The crown of thorns is mentioned in the New Testament three times. Matthew, chapter 27. verses 28 and 29. "And they stripped him and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews"!
John 19:2,5: "And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe,…. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!” )
Mark 15:17: "they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head"
I had a pastor who said that the thorns were actually like large spikes and they were pushed deep into the scalp of Christ and caused him much agony. He said they also caused him to bleed profusely. Whether or not this is indeed what Jesus wore on His head before His crucifixion cannot be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. Even so, the history of how this object made it's way to the Notre Dame Cathedral is quite fascinating.
The Journey of the Thorns
The 1918 Catholic encyclopedia outlines a fantastic journey that ended with the crown of thorns residing in Paris.
it seems that in 1238, Baldwin II, AKA the Latin Emperor Byzantium was in desperate need of cash. He sold the religious relic to King Louis II,(AKA St Louis of France) after being paid by Venice bankers. The thorny crown arrived in Paris on August 19, 1239. Upon seeing it King Louis II removed the crown from his own head, took off his royal robes and walked barefooted behind the relic that was said to have been placed on Christ's head.
The crown of thorns was taken to Sainte-Chapelle where the king is said to have kept a number of relics related to the crucifixion. During the French revolution, Napoleon took possession of the crown of thorns and had it placed in the National Library until 1804. It was then given to the Archbishops and in 1806 was placed in the Notre-Dame Cathedral. The crown eventually lost all of its original thorns and became nothing more than a bundle of reeds that are held together by a gold band.
The crown of thorns currently is displayed publicly, each Friday during the season of Lent, It can be viewed between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., and on Good Friday., the symbol of faith is on display the entire day. During the rest of the year, the crown of thorns can be seen at 3 p.m. on the first Fridays of each month. The rest of the time it is housed in the cathedral’s treasury, guarded by The Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.
Chaplain of Paris Fighters Saves the Precious Treasure
Sometime after midnight EST, CNN reported that the crown of thorns and other items of faith inside the Notre Dame were spared. It is is being reported that Father Fournier, Chaplain of Paris firefighters went into the fire-damaged building and removed the crown of thorns and other relics intact Although a few precious treasures were spared, the fate of others is not so certain. The Cathedral organ, stained glass windows, and valuable paintings have not yet been accounted for. Even so, the removal of the crown of thorns has the entire world talking about Christ and His resurrection This Good Friday and Easter Sunday the relics of faith will not be displayed in their usual manner, as they have been in the past and the crown of thorns has never been authenticated as the real deal. Even so, for millions of believers around the world, faith in the empty tomb and knowing He has risen indeed is strong in their hearts, minds, and spirits.
The crown of thorns and the coronavirus
Nations around the world are asking citizens to shelter in place which will affect Easter services for 2020. Whether or not the crown of thorns rescued from the fire is THE crown of thorns, it really does not matter. Believers know in their hearts that there was a crown made of thorns that was pressed into his head, that he suffered and died for our sins. He lives within our hearts and that's the bottom line. The coronavirus nor anything else can change that.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 16, 2019:
I am saddened by the burning of Notre Dame. I heard a little while ago that they did save the organ and other items. I'm glad they save the Crown of Thorns. I enjoyed your article.