Jesus Christ's' Crown of Thorns shown at Notre Dame

A crown of thorns which was believed to have been worn by Jesus Christ and which was bought by King Louis IX in 1239 is presented at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Friday March 21, 2014. To mark the 800th anniversary of Louis IX's christening, the crown of thorns will be displayed outside Notre Dame, at the Collegiate Church of Poissy, where King Louis IX was christened. (Remy de la Mauviniere)

March 21, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
An ancient relic that many Christians revere as Jesus Christ's "Crown of Thorns" has made an exceptionally rare public appearance at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

The crown - a circular band of branches encased in a gilded, golden tube - is being displayed for three days to mark the 700th anniversary of the birthday of King Louis IX of France, who acquired it in 1239.

The relic was first mentioned by Jerusalem pilgrims in the 5th century and was transferred to Constantinople in the 10th century.

The artifact has only been displayed a handful of times in the last hundred years: in 1997, and - famously - in 1939 on the eve of World War II, to celebrate seven centuries since it came to France.