Notre Dame is one of the world’s great works of architecture. But the cathedral itself is not the only masterpiece on its grounds. Housed in its walls are many historically and artistically valuable items acquired over centuries. As the Paris landmark burns, noted paintings, pipe organs, religious relics, and one-of-a-kind stained-glass installations are at risk.
Here are some of the most famous treasures believed to be inside the cathedral at the time of the blaze:
Notre Dame’s stained glass and rose windows
The south-facing circular rose window is one of the most famous pieces of stained glass in the world. Notre Dame has multiple windows of this type, but this one, built in 1260, became the pattern for rose windows in cathedrals around Europe. Today, the glass is not original, as centuries of damage and restoration—including a fire in 1830—have altered it.
Notre Dame’s paintings
The cathedral has about 50 “Mays” of Notre Dame (link in French), large paintings that were commissioned that month nearly every year from 1630 to 1707. The following were on display at the time of the fire (titles translated from their original French):
|The Descent of the Holy Spirit||Jacques Blanchard||1634|
|Saint Pierre healing the sick of his shadow||Laurent de la Hyre||1635|
|The Conversion of St. Paul||Lawrence of the Hyre||1637|
|The Centenary Cornelius at the feet of St. Peter||Aubin Vouet||1639|
|The Preaching of St. Peter in Jerusalem||Charles Poerson||1642|
|The Crucifixion of St. Peter||Sebastien Bourdon||1643|
|The Crucifixion of Saint Andrew||Charles Le Brun||1647|
|Saint Paul blinds the false prophet Barjesu and converts the proconsul Sergius||Nicolas Loir||1650|
|The Saint Stephen’s stoning||Charles Le Brun||1651|
|The Flagellation of Saint Paul and Silas||Louis Testelin||1655|
|Saint André thrills with joy at the sight of his torture||Gabriel Blanchard||1670|
|The Prophet Agabus predicting to St. Paul his sufferings in Jerusalem||Louis Cheron||1687|
|The son of Sceva defeated by the demon||Matthew Elyas||1702|
There were at least two additional significant pieces of art on display in the cathedral: The Visitation, painted by Jean Jouvenet in 1716; and Saint Thomas Aquinas, Fountain of Wisdom painted in 1648 by Antoine Nicolas.
Notre Dame’s organs
The Great Organ may be the most well-known organ in the world. It has five keyboards and nearly 8,000 pipes. The cathedral has two other organs, though they are significantly smaller.
Notre Dame’s statuary
There were 37 representations of the Virgin Mary inside the cathedral. The most famous of those is a Madonna and child called Our Lady of Paris.
Other statues include:
|Closing of the Choir||Pierre de Chelle, Jean Ravy and Jean Le Bouteiller||1300 to 1350|
|Mausoleum of Count Harcourt||Jean-Baptiste Pigalle||1776|
|Saint Therese of the Child Jesus||Louis Castex||1934|
|Statue of St. Anthony||The sisters of Bethlehem Monastery of Our Lady of Mercy of Mougères||2013|
Notre Dame’s relics
Notre Dame is also home to the Relics of Sainte-Chapelle, which include what is believed to be the crown of thorns placed on Jesus at his crucifixion, and a fragment of the cross on which he died.