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France's culture minister says the "most precious treasures" of Paris' Notre Dame cathedral have been saved after a devastating fire, including the crown of thorns Catholic relic and the tunic of Saint Louis.
Culture Minister Franck Riester told reporters outside Notre Dame that other works are being transferred from a storeroom in City Hall to the Louvre on Tuesday and Wednesday. There they will be dehumidified, protected and eventually restored.
He said that the cathedral's greatest paintings will be removed starting Friday. He said, "We assume they have not been damaged by the fire but there will eventually be damage from the smoke."
Paris' mayor, Anne Hidalgo, in a tweet thanked firefighters and others who formed a human chain to save the precious artifacts. "The crown of thorns, the tunic of St. Louis and many other major artifacts are now in a safe place," she wrote.
Jean-Marc Fournier, the chaplain of the Paris fire brigade, is being hailed as a hero after taking part in the recovery of the crown of thorns, a believed to have been worn by Jesus Christ during his crucifixion.
Speaking to reporters at the cathedral, Paris' 15th district mayor Philippe Goujon said Tuesday that Fournier insisted on being allowed to enter the edifice with fire fighters and played a role in the relic's rescue.
Fournier's bravery had been noted already after the Nov. 2015 Bataclan attack, when he tended to the injured and prayed over the dead.
According to an interview he gave to Christian Family magazine after that attack, Fournier was based in Germany and in the western Sarthe region, before joining the Paris fire brigade.
He also served in the Diocese of the French Armed Forces and was based for a time in Afghanistan.