The Hero of the Notre Dame Cathedral Fire

 

The chaplain of the Paris Fire Brigade, Father Jean-Marc Fournier, is being lauded as a hero after rushing into the burning cathedral and rescuing Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and the relic of the Crown of Thorns.

According to this article, Fr. Fournier was ordained an FSSP priest (Priestly Society of St. Peter, a traditionalist order) but was detached from the FSSP temporarily in 2006 into the diocese of the French Armed Forces. He served in Afghanistan where he survived an ambush attack that killed 10 of his brother soldiers. Fr. Fournier was also present at the November 13, 2015, Bataclan concert hall terrorist attack where he rushed in to comfort the wounded and pray for the dead.

Fr. Fournier appears to be a man of true courage, strengthened and sustained by his belief in Jesus Christ. As he recounts in the video interview below:

As I was on duty, I was called on the scene, and right away two things must absolutely be done: save this unfathomable treasure that is the crown of thorns, and of course our Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament.

As I entered the cathedral, there was little smoke and almost no heat, but we had a vision of what hell may be: like waterfalls of fire pouring down from the openings in the roof, due to the downfall not only of the spire but also of other smaller debris in the choir.

What an incredible story of virtue and courage. Pray for priests like this man, for it is priests like Fr. Fournier who make it their vocation to bring us Jesus Christ — even to the point of risking death. May Fr. Fournier, along with Notre Dame Cathedral, inspire the French faithful, and us, to emerge stronger in our faith.

N.B: there is a translation of the French in the comments below the video.

Published in Religion & Philosophy
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  1. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    I read articles about him – what he did before, and what he did during the fire.  No matter what his politics are, he’s an example to all . . .

    • #1
  2. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf
    @BrianWolf

    A good man, doing good things with great courage.  Thanks for this post.

    • #2
  3. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    What a man. Hero is very appropriate. Hopefully they will put a plaque up in a corner of the rebuilt Cathedral. He needs to be remembered forever. 

    • #3
  4. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Here, my friends, is a MAN.  

    Would Pope John Paul II have done that?  Of course. 

    Pope Benedict?  Of course. 

    Pope Francis?  Um…  Maybe? 

    Would I have done that?  I hope so.  But I guess you don’t know until you’re in that situation.  I hope so. 

    I raise a glass to this hero.  

    • #4
  5. dnewlander Coolidge
    dnewlander
    @dnewlander

    Amen. What a great story!

    • #5
  6. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    “It’s not every day that someone performs an act of bravery that simultaneously expresses the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity, but Father Jean-Marc…”

    That is what I was trying to say.

    • #6
  7. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    But what did he do with the statue of Jesus?

    • #7
  8. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    But what did he do with the statue of Jesus?

    Do what?

    What do you mean?

    Are you referring to this:

    Famed statue of Jesus and Virgin Mary spared in Notre Dame blaze

    Photographs taken in the aftermath of the catastrophic blaze show the 1725 Pietà statue, “Descent from the Cross,” by French sculptor Nicolas Coustou, rising covered in ashes but intact out of a pile of charred rubble inside the sanctuary.

    • #8
  9. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Scott Wilmot (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    But what did he do with the statue of Jesus?

    Do what?

    What do you mean?

    Are you referring to this:

    Famed statue of Jesus and Virgin Mary spared in Notre Dame blaze

    Photographs taken in the aftermath of the catastrophic blaze show the 1725 Pietà statue, “Descent from the Cross,” by French sculptor Nicolas Coustou, rising covered in ashes but intact out of a pile of charred rubble inside the sanctuary.

    https://freebeacon.com/blog/a-priest-saved-the-body-of-christ-from-notre-dame-and-ny-times-thought-he-meant-a-statue/

    • #9
  10. dnewlander Coolidge
    dnewlander
    @dnewlander

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Scott Wilmot (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    But what did he do with the statue of Jesus?

    Do what?

    What do you mean?

    Are you referring to this:

    Famed statue of Jesus and Virgin Mary spared in Notre Dame blaze

    Photographs taken in the aftermath of the catastrophic blaze show the 1725 Pietà statue, “Descent from the Cross,” by French sculptor Nicolas Coustou, rising covered in ashes but intact out of a pile of charred rubble inside the sanctuary.

    https://freebeacon.com/blog/a-priest-saved-the-body-of-christ-from-notre-dame-and-ny-times-thought-he-meant-a-statue/

    That is a great article.

    • #10
  11. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    But what did he do with the statue of Jesus?

    Perhaps he took it to a Ted Cruz rally.

    • #11
  12. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Joseph Stanko (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    But what did he do with the statue of Jesus?

    Perhaps he took it to a Ted Cruz rally.

    Touchdown Jesus is still in South Bend.

    • #12
  13. Paul Schinder Inactive
    Paul Schinder
    @PaulSchinder

    Can someone who’s Catholic answer this question.  The Crown of Thorns I can understand, but why was he so intent on saving the Host?  He’s a priest, he can create it whenever he wants, and is required to do it once a day, isn’t he?  What’s so special about a few wafers?  (Yes, I understand it’s the “Body of Christ”.  But Christ has endured worse.)

    • #13
  14. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Paul Schinder (View Comment):

    Can someone who’s Catholic answer this question. The Crown of Thorns I can understand, but why was he so intent on saving the Host? He’s a priest, he can create it whenever he wants, and is required to do it once a day, isn’t he? What’s so special about a few wafers? (Yes, I understand it’s the “Body of Christ”. But Christ has endured worse.)

    If you fully believe that that is the body of Christ, then all reverence must be paid to all the hosts consecrated. If someone at Mass decides to not eat it and dumps it, we are obligated to pick it up and eat it, the only proper disposal of Christ’s Body. Full reverence must be paid to all elements of His being. Think of it, it is Christ. What wouldn’t you do if Christ was really before you?  You would do everything. In fact, though I’ve never seen it written, I believe we are obligated to die for any single host.

    And there’s my Good Friday homily. ;)

    • #14
  15. Paul Schinder Inactive
    Paul Schinder
    @PaulSchinder

    So, Manny, you run into a burning church and there’s the Host and a crying child hiding under a pew.  You’re supposed to save the Host and not the child?  That seems a perversion of Christianity, much like some fundamentalists seeming worship of the Bible rather than God.  If Christ loses an arm under those conditions, you can make him a new one once you get outside.

    • #15
  16. Al Sparks Thatcher
    Al Sparks
    @AlSparks

    It turns out, from reading the Wall Street Journal article (behind their paywall) about this, that there was considerable pre-fire planning regading the Cathedral.  That’s typical of fire departments around the world.  That is, they typically visit large structures in their service area and do a pre-fireplan.

    And that included what to prioritize on what to save.  The priest that went into the structure to save those artifacts was a chaplain with that department, and was trained to enter structures on fire.  He also knew where to go to get those artifacts.

    In general, a big part of the save of that structure, including the minimizing of water damage was planning and that many of those firefighters had visited the Notre Dame as a part of their duties.  This included quarterly fire inspections.

    • #16
  17. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Paul Schinder (View Comment):

    So, Manny, you run into a burning church and there’s the Host and a crying child hiding under a pew. You’re supposed to save the Host and not the child? That seems a perversion of Christianity, much like some fundamentalists seeming worship of the Bible rather than God. If Christ loses an arm under those conditions, you can make him a new one once you get outside.

    These hypotheticals are always silly. No you’re supposed to save the child. Christ is in every human being. 

    • #17
  18. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Paul Schinder (View Comment):

    Can someone who’s Catholic answer this question. The Crown of Thorns I can understand, but why was he so intent on saving the Host? He’s a priest, he can create it whenever he wants, and is required to do it once a day, isn’t he? What’s so special about a few wafers? (Yes, I understand it’s the “Body of Christ”. But Christ has endured worse.)

    Perhaps removing the air quotes from Body of Christ might help.

    • #18
  19. Paul Schinder Inactive
    Paul Schinder
    @PaulSchinder

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Perhaps removing the air quotes from Body of Christ might help.

    They weren’t intended to be air quotes.

     

    • #19
  20. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Scott Wilmot (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    But what did he do with the statue of Jesus?

    Do what?

    What do you mean?

    Are you referring to this:

    Famed statue of Jesus and Virgin Mary spared in Notre Dame blaze

    Photographs taken in the aftermath of the catastrophic blaze show the 1725 Pietà statue, “Descent from the Cross,” by French sculptor Nicolas Coustou, rising covered in ashes but intact out of a pile of charred rubble inside the sanctuary.

    https://freebeacon.com/blog/a-priest-saved-the-body-of-christ-from-notre-dame-and-ny-times-thought-he-meant-a-statue/

    Wow. I hadn’t seen that. The ignorance of the left is astounding.

    • #20
  21. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    Paul Schinder (View Comment):

    Can someone who’s Catholic answer this question. The Crown of Thorns I can understand, but why was he so intent on saving the Host? He’s a priest, he can create it whenever he wants, and is required to do it once a day, isn’t he? What’s so special about a few wafers? (Yes, I understand it’s the “Body of Christ”. But Christ has endured worse.)

    The Crown of Thorns is just an inanimate relic, a sacramental – it has true devotional and historic worth, but it is not in any way equal to the Blessed Sacrament, the Body of Christ – truly his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. That is why the priest was so intent on saving the Blessed Sacrament (these were the hosts that had been validly confected during the mass – not a box of raw, unconsecrated hosts – as you infer there is nothing special about these unconsecrated “wafers” except that they contain the proper matter – wheat bread). And as Manny said, your gotcha hypothetical is a ridiculous question.

    And the priest doesn’t “create it whenever he wants”. The wafer as you call it, undergoes transubstantiation when confected validly during the Eucharistic sacrifice.

    • #21
  22. Paul Schinder Inactive
    Paul Schinder
    @PaulSchinder

    Scott Wilmot (View Comment):

    Paul Schinder (View Comment):

    The Crown of Thorns is just an inanimate relic, a sacramental – it has true devotional and historic worth, but it is not in any way equal to the Blessed Sacrament, the Body of Christ – truly his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. That is why the priest was so intent on saving the Blessed Sacrament (these were the hosts that had been validly confected during the mass – not a box of raw, unconsecrated hosts – as you infer there is nothing special about these unconsecrated “wafers” except that they contain the proper matter – wheat bread). And as Manny said, your gotcha hypothetical is a ridiculous question.

    He said you should die for it.  I was probing the boundaries of the belief.  Look, most of my extended family is Catholic, but none of them are around at the moment to ask.  I’m Episcopalian (we believe anything!).  It’s been over 30 years since I was last in Paris and visited Notre Dame.  (Didn’t like the city with its ugly buildings and then polluted air, but loved the French countryside.)  Surely there are other relics in that building more worth saving for their uniqueness.  Yes, the Crown of Thorns is a relic (and, face it, probably a fake relic), but it’s also a historical artifact.  I can understand the urge to save it (or other fake artifacts like the Shroud of Turin), or something like a Gutenberg Bible, but not something that is manufactured daily (in both senses) all over the planet.

    And the priest doesn’t “create it whenever he wants”. The wafer as you call it, undergoes transubstantiation when confected validly during the Eucharistic sacrifice.

    I understand that each priest must say Mass daily (only once, though, to prevent a “holier than thou” race to foolishness).

    • #22
  23. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Paul Schinder (View Comment):
    I understand that each priest must say Mass daily (only once, though, to prevent a “holier than thou” race to foolishness).

    http://canonlawmadeeasy.com/2009/01/08/do-priests-have-to-say-mass-every-day/ 

    • #23
  24. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    Paul Schinder (View Comment):
    Yes, the Crown of Thorns is a relic (and, face it, probably a fake relic),

    Paul Schinder (View Comment):
    (or other fake artifacts like the Shroud of Turin)

    Paul Schinder (View Comment):
    but not something that is manufactured daily (in both senses) all over the planet.

    Paul Schinder (View Comment):
    (only once, though, to prevent a “holier than thou” race to foolishness).

    Look, I don’t know what your issues with Catholicism are, but this post is not the place for you to bash Catholicism. Take it up in your own post – the issues you are bellyaching about here have nothing to do with the celebration of the heroism of Fr. Fournier.

    • #24
  25. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    Some follow-up on our hero:

    For This French Priest, Rushing Into Notre Dame’s Flames Was Part of His Mission

    • #25
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