April 18, 2019

"I had two priorities: to save the crown of thorns and a statue of Jesus."

Said Rev. Jean-Marc Fournier, quoted in "The Chaplain, the Cathedral Fire and the Race to Rescue Notre-Dame’s Relics" (NYT).
“We needed keys and codes to save some of the world treasures, which I clearly didn’t have,” Father Fournier said.... The crown of thorns... was locked in a chest.

While Father Fournier ran to look for the keys, some of his fellow firefighters opted for a more direct approach: They broke open the chest....

With the statue [of Jesus] in hand, Father Fournier, alone in the nave... "thought Jesus could help us a little bit and work, too,” he said. “I invited him to worry about his own house if he didn’t want to finish the night under a tent by the Canal Saint-Martin.”...

“The one who tells you that he’s not afraid in that kind of situation is either very dangerous or foolish,” the chaplain said. “Even for a firefighter, to go inside a building in flames isn’t that natural.”
ADDED: The NYT had to correct this story:
An earlier version of this article misidentified one of two objects recovered from Notre-Dame by the Rev. Jean-Marc Fournier. It was the Blessed Sacrament, not a statue of Jesus.
The commenters over there were irritated by the mistake:
I do not, in fact, think he was saving "a statue of Jesus". He was saving the Holy Eucharist, which Catholics see as the body of Christ. Come on, folks. This is pretty basic.
And:
The priest did not carry out "a statue of Jesus." He carried out the Eucharist, our communion wafers, which Catholics believe is the Body of Christ. It's more important than the crown of thorns.

Please make a greater effort to educate your staff on basic religious literacy. There are plenty of Catholics in New York, and this level of mistake is practically offensive to many of us.

54 comments:

Kay said...

I would really love to see both artifacts. Not sure if NYT published any photos beyond the boundries of the paywall in this article.

Lincolntf said...

Kay, here's an attempt to link to an image of the Crown. https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1366&bih=651&ei=_Wm4XOPiLIa0ggfBi4kg&q=crfown+of+thorns+notre+dame&oq=crfown+of+thorns+notre+dame&gs_l=img.3...3732.10579..10985...0.0..0.146.2101.25j2......1....1..gws-wiz-img.....0..0j0i24j0i10i24.5K-qSQUPg3M#imgrc=iFPTvn-JBP0hmM:

Kay said...

Thank you!

mccullough said...

How big is the “statue” if the priest can hold it “in hand”? Sounds like the size of an action figure. A GI Joe with the king-fu grip.

rhhardin said...

No shirt of hair.

wwww said...

Hero.

TJM said...

A very courageous man who sets a fine example for all Catholic priests.

Nichevo said...

I can't wait Howie, hurry up and take a shit on this guy.

EDH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EDH said...

Maybe in return for Rev. Fournier's heroism they can change the name of the syndrome linked to Invokana in the lawyer ads I keep hearing running constantly running on cable news channels?

Fournier's Gangrene of the Genitals

rhhardin said...

The holy grail of relics.

William said...

It's reassuring to read of a priest who acted better than you would expect rather than worse than you feared. The relics were blessed and saved from the flames of destruction by his devotion. It's supposed to work the other way around, but what ever works.

Trumpit said...

"We needed keys and codes to save some of the world treasures, which I clearly didn’t have,” Father Fournier said.... The crown of thorns... was locked in a chest."

God works in mysterious ways. I believe God embodies Vulcan, the Roman god of fire. Vulcan can play with fire and not get burnt. He's that powerful. After many centuries, he grew tired of the Parisian voodoo shack called "Notre Dame," and decided to torch the place. God is the ultimate arsonist, and Kim Jong-un is His messenger.

Nichevo said...

Trumpit, my hat's off to you. How do you do it? Bath salts? Slivovitz? Turpentine?

stevew said...

Courage is not fearlessness, courage is the ability to act in spite of your fear.

Rev. Fournier, and the firefighters, is courageous.

Marc said...

Father Zuhlsdorf has posted at his site a KTO interview with Fr Fournier, here.

ga6 said...

Now go to NY Post site and read of the arrest of the 37 year old grad student who was caught bringing gasoline, charcoal lighter fluid, an butane lighters into St Patrick Cathedral last night. He had a van parked in front of the church, no mention in the article of any stickers on the van.

William said...

If a fire broke out in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame would you be inspired and brave enough to rush in and save John Lennon's guitar. The sacred one, the one he used for the white album.

Bay Area Guy said...

I'm hopeful that our French brothers and sisters will rebuild this magnificent Church, and I hope they start attending it more!

exiledonmainstreet, green-eyed devil said...

Kay said...
I would really love to see both artifacts. Not sure if NYT published any photos beyond the boundries of the paywall in this article.

4/18/19, 7:08 AM

The crown of thorns is encased in a beautiful gold reliquary. Of course, it's not the real crown of thorns. Every self-respecting cardinal in medieval Europe had to have at least a few sacred relics proudly displayed in his cathedral and supply met demand. If he couldn't get something Jesus was said to have worn or touched, he would settle for the bones of a martyr. Since there was no way of proving authenticity, it's safe to say hustlers made a good bit of coin on these things. Bits of wood from what was, supposedly, the "True Cross" would, if pieced together, lead one to believe that Christ had been crucified on a giant redwood.


The crown of thorns is invaluable because it is a medieval relic, not because it is the actual crown of thorns.

It's easy now to be snarky about relics, but the same people who believed that every scrap of clothing and item Jesus had ever touched had been preserved by the apostles also built those stunning cathedrals - and did so without computers or degrees from MIT.

DanTheMan said...

>>built those stunning cathedrals - and did so without computers or degrees from MIT.

I had a similar thought years ago at Westminster cathedral... every stone was cut by hand. I could only imagine some mason spending his entire working life cutting the same size stone over and over and over again, every day for years on end...

Fen said...

They gave their lives, literally, to the construction of Notre Dame. Do we even know their names? Those are the men who should be praised and honored. And you start by making more than a half arsed effort protecting the Relic they created.

Fernandistein said...

If a fire broke out in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame would you be inspired and brave enough to rush in and save John Lennon's guitar. The sacred one, the one he used for the white album.

The article says that Fournier was in little or no danger.

Fernandistein said...

They gave their lives, literally, to the construction of Notre Dame.

The actual people who built these buildings and their construction methods is what interests me, and yes, a lot of them were killed creating these pre-OSHA grandiose monuments to superstition. It's a shame ... and a sin?

PaladinQB said...

Evidently that was not a statue of Jesus, but the Holy Eucharist, which Fr. Fournier (and I) believe actually _is_ Jesus. It would be very weird for Fr. Fournier to say that a statue of Jesus was going to help save the building -- it makes much more sense if he was holding the Eucharist.

See this thread: https://twitter.com/SohrabAhmari/status/1118859899604283393

Angle-Dyne, Samurai Buzzard said...

Fern: ...and yes, a lot of them were killed creating these pre-OSHA grandiose monuments to superstition. It's a shame ... and a sin?

Very neighborly of you to fill in for Ritmo when he's not around to provide the teenaged-atheist content.

Marc said...

Thank you, PaladinQB, for catching out the NYT's reporter and editors. Wonder if they will publish a correction?

JHapp said...

PaladinQB, so many Christians seem to have a hard time with the word "is" in "this is my body". I get a laugh because it reminds me of President Clinton.

The Drill SGT said...

The story reminds me of Father Mychal Fallon Judge, the Chaplain of the FDNY. On 9/11 he stood in the lobby of the North tower ministering to the injured and dying. He gave mass absolution to the 100+ firemen headed up the stairs to their deaths. He was designated victim 0001

Marc said...

No amount of argumentation is ever going to convince otherwise those who know a priori that 'mediaeval Catholcs' "believed that every scrap of clothing and item Jesus had ever touched had been preserved by the apostles". The Wikipedia article on the Crown (here) makes what seems to me to be in broad terms a plausible case for the authenticity of the relic held at Notre-Dame, however.

The polemical bromide about the mass of relics of the True Cross being large enough to fill a ship derives from the tract on relics by John Calvin, of whom from my point of view the less said the better but who was not, in any case, what one would call an 'impartial observer'. I haven't read the work of Rohaut de Fleury (1870) in which he attempted to 'scientifically' assess the total mass of the then-existing relics of the True Cross; for what it's worth, he calculated it to be much less than that of the Cross in its putative original state. Obviously, lots of, ahem, variables there.

But it is none the less true that wicked people have created false 'relics' and traded in them. Judas, mercator pessimus.... Tsk.

Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark said...

A better account (apologize for length)-

Notre Dame Priest: How Blessed Sacrament, Crown of Thorns Were Saved From Fire

Father Jean-Marc Fournier, chaplain to the Paris Fire Brigade, was on his way with a group of military chaplains to a dinner on Holy Monday with a local bishop when they noticed plumes of black smoke towering over the French capital. He looked at his phone and saw many missed messages telling him the cathedral was on fire.

The priest, a former army chaplain who served in Afghanistan, then immediately rushed to Notre Dame cathedral . . . “Quickly we focus on the priority: the relics of the Passion and the Holy Sacrament,” he recalled in an April 17 interview with Famille Chrétienne. But first they had to overcome the first obstacle: the Crown of Thorns was locked in a safe. [Meanwhile,] members of a group equipped to work in the cathedral worked to save other priceless objects according to a “predetermined plan.” . . .

“He was able to open the safe and took out the Crown of Thorns,” said Father Fournier. “The first objective was met.” . . . Attention then turned to the Blessed Sacrament.

By that time, the spire had collapsed and at any moment, the “ship may collapse,” the priest recounted. He said two fires were burning on the ground: one at the front main altar, and another in front of the high altar, in front of the choir of the canons. “Rains of fire keep falling from the roof,” he said. “In the cathedral is a very particular atmosphere: no smoke, and no excessive heat.”

They decide to rationalize on which treasures in the cathedral should be rescued and act “systematically,” passing through each of the chapels in turn. As they recover the priceless works, they place some of them in a yard and protect them with waterproof covering. After retrieving “altar fittings, Our Lady of Czestochowa,” and several “great icons, “we cannot go further,” Father Fournier recalled. “The officer tells us it’s too dangerous to continue.” . . .

He asked the sacristan where the consecrated hosts were located. “The Real Presence lies in two places,” came the reply. “First on the altar of the Canons, where there are many thousands of hosts to carry.” But the hosts were located under a “tangle of brining girders” and “molten lead” that continually fell from the roof. “It’s absolutely impossible to reach!” Father Fournier told Famille Chrétienne.

A second location was at the altar of St. George. “We find the key. I recover Jesus,” the priest said, and having retrieved Him, he then blessed the cathedral with the Blessed Sacrament. . . . The hosts and some of the cathedral treasures were left in the sacristy, which “was not threatened by the fire.” The Crown of Thorns was taken to the workers’ living quarters.

He and a fire sergeant then climbed the still-accessible South Tower and saw the roof had been completely destroyed. Asked about his thoughts at that moment, Father Fournier remembered it was the beginning of Holy Week, and also the words at the beginning of Lent — “Remember you are dust and to dust you will return.” But he also thought of the Resurrection.

“I had both the great sadness of the loss,” he said, but at the same time, “this unspeakable joy related to the hope of the Resurrection. I knew that the cathedral would be rebuilt more beautiful, stronger and more alive!” he said.

Fen said...

I confess that I was annoyed tbe fireman was described as a "hero"

I understand now how wrong I was.

This is a story about Faith. I could call him a fool over his concern for inanimate objects that are likely fakes anyway.

But I believe, in the back of his mind, he already knew this. But what he also knew was that these objects had been imbued with Faith and inspired millions of good people all over the world. And the loss of these "relics" would have been devastating to them.

He didn't risk his life for God, or for some Holy Relic. He risked his life to salvage that which inspires millions of faithful souls.

Hero.

PaladinQB said...

Marc said...
Thank you, PaladinQB, for catching out the NYT's reporter and editors. Wonder if they will publish a correction?


Haha, I'll look for that one on the twelfth of never. It still wouldn't be as good as the time they had to correct their description of Easter:
https://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/01/world/europe/pope-francis-calls-for-peace-in-all-the-world-in-first-easter-message.html?_r=4&

Unknown said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khf3t1GQZMw

fivewheels said...

Wags on Twitter: Reporters and editors at the New York Times are so ignorant of Western Civilization that they thought "Blessed Sacrament" was probably the name of the "statue."

fivewheels said...

I ain't no Christian, but if someone uses the words "body of Christ" to me, I know they aren't talking about a frickin' statue.

fivewheels said...

Sohrab Ahmari on Twitter:

An astute friend comments: “A generation ago, if a [likely Ivy-educated] Times reporter had filed something like this, an agnostic Jewish copy editor with a City College degree would have ripped him a new one.”

bleh said...

Lmao way to go NYTimes. Just stunningly ignorant.

narciso said...

honest we got it right, Shirley,


https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1116101/notre-dame-fire-cause-france-police-electrical-short-circuit-blaze

readering said...

The Times did publish a correction.

Narayanan said...

The article says that Fournier was in little or no danger.

Well then were the relics in any danger?

readering said...

I'm Catholic but I don't expect non-Catholics to know what the Blessed Sacrament is. Of course, reporters are supposed to be trained to ask questions. (And even the revised article is a little off. Says priest, by Blessed Sacrament, was referring to the consecrated bread and wine. Not sure the Cathedral keeps much consecrated wine on hand.)

Marc said...

Ha, that correction happened quickly, didn't it, which is only right, given the ridiculous nature of the error.

Ken B said...

I hope AA is being droll here. This is another betisse from the NYT. I see Mark has details above.
Lots of stupid around today https://kenblogic.blogspot.com/2019/04/is-this-at-last-peak-stupid.html

Ken B said...

Readering:
I am not catholic either but I expect educated people to have some minimal level of knowledge. I also expect editors to use common sense. A statue? Really? Not even Arnold Schwarzenegger can carry the typical statue. And one handed? The whole thing screams, maybe I need to check the translation. But they didn’t, they who preen about their layers of fact checkers and their skilled editors.

readering said...

In part it's an age thing. It used to be that the Eucharist was kept on the main altar and attendants enforced quiet in the nave of a cathedral, explaining to non-believing visitors if needed. But that became increasingly difficult, and now often the Eucharist is kept in a side altar approached only by the faithful. (Los Angeles, for example.) So the casual visitor is less aware of the presence of the Eucharist. A person under a certain age may never have entered a Catholic Church made aware of an altar tabernacle for consecrated host.

They did fix it pretty quick.

Mark said...

I just watched the news video of Fr. Fournier giving an extended description of what happened, and never once did he speak of a statue or some synonym for statue. It was in French (of course), but presumably Elian Peltier, who wrote the story, knows French well since he is stationed in Paris.

There is absolutely no excuse, even if one has no clue to what "le Saint Sacrament" is ("Holy Sacrament" or Blessed Sacrament, Eucharist, Holy Communion, etc.), for somehow getting "statue" out of that.

cyrus83 said...

What really annoys about the NYT's mistake is that priests and firefighters have numerous times in church fires throughout history acted to retrieve the tabernacle with the Sacrament from the flames. Among believers that is always going to be the top priority to save, which is probably why the NYT was confused - to a secularist, this looks like a foolish act to save perishable pieces of bread.

Jamie said...

Whoever keeps pointing out that the article says he wasn't in any danger - did HE know that?

Narayanan said...

to a secularist, this looks like a foolish act to save perishable pieces of bread.

"Perishable" ... Now that is a tricky word!
Mystic Symbolism is ruined by the action reported.

Marc said...

Would it do serious damage to Mr Peltier's career or reputation if he would just tell us, if he can, what happened? I doubt it. Of course it is possible that the vaunted editorial staff screwed up somehow, although I don't see it.

A blessed Triduum to all!

Marc said...

Happy Easter! The NY Post ran an article by Mark Hemingway on Good Friday about this bêtise.