Crown of Thorns: Fears for Notre Dame Cathedral's most precious relic in huge fire
The Crown of Thorns, considered Paris’s equivalent of the Crown Jewels, is stored at the end of a nave of the cathedral, not readily visible to visitors.
Said to have been worn by Christ before the crucifixion, it is presented to believers for veneration on the first Friday of each month and every Friday during Lent.
The relic, originally from Jerusalem, was first housed in France in the nearby Sainte-Chapelle, built in Paris by King Louis IX especially for it in the 13th century.
The authenticity of the relic cannot be stated with certainty, but it has been documented as dating back to the fourth century.
Some 13 million people visit Notre Dame each year to view the relic, which rarely leaves the cathedral.
Christ’s captors used the Crown of Thorns both to cause him pain and to mock his claim of authority, according to the Bible.
It is one of three holy artefacts, along with a fragment of the True Cross and one of the Holy Nails from the crucifixion.