The relic, pictured right, said to be the Crown of Thorns that was placed on Jesus’ head before the Crucifixion, was brought in procession on 21 March from Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral to the nearby Sainte Chapelle, which was built to house it in 1248, writes Tom Heneghan. It was displayed during the first Mass celebrated there since the French Revolution. The rare event was organised as part of ceremonies marking the 800th anniversary of the birth of St Louis, the French king who bought the relic from the cash-strapped Latin Emperor Baldwin II of Constantinople in 1239.
Sainte Chapelle, famed for its soaring stained-glass windows, now stands inside the Paris law courts and special permission was needed for the procession to mark the thirteenth and fourteenth Stations of the Cross on the steps leading into the nineteenth-century Palais de Justice.
The relic, which was moved to Notre Dame in 1806, has only left the cathedral twice before, once in 1939, and once in 1997 for World Youth Day.
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