The cathedrals of France, and of all Europe, present a grandeur, individual and collective. While offered ostensibly to pay homage to Christ, they were usually also intended to show the power and largesse of their patrons. Lost in time and space, frequently, are the stories of the founders.
St. Firmin taught Christianity to the Picards, and put up the first church in an area outside the walls of Amiens, in the early Fourth Century AD. For his pains, he was beheaded by the Romans. The Picards, though, brought his church and its implements into the city, and by 1269, the main cathedral that we see today was in place.
I began my visit, as usual, by circling around the exterior. The spires, tympanum and outer shell exude the magnificence that reflected Amiens’ exemplary position between Flanders and Paris, and its relative proximity to the English Channel. The city’s canals are also an outgrowth of the prosperity enjoyed by Picardy, during and after the Crusades of the 12th-14th Centuries and during the Renaissance of the North.
The cathedral is bounded by gardens, on the west side.
In this area, a young lady had a successful interview for an office position. That it happened in an outdoor setting says much of Amiens. That her poised and confident manner bore fruit says even more. I saw little, if any, objectification of people here, or anywhere else in Europe.
The tympanum, below, is dedicated to St. Honore, whose relics were shown around, as a fund raiser for the 1260 iteration of the Cathedral. His image is seen in the center of the front entrance.
Now, on to the nave. The worshipers show the scale of this venerable hall.
The Chapel of St. John the Evangelist is found immediately to the left, upon entering the Cathedral from the south.
Paint was used more extensively in cathedrals the north of France, perhaps reflecting the influence of the Flemish. The scenes below are a reliquary of John the Baptist.
The preserved Church of St. Firmin acts as a bolster, spiritually, to the greater cathedral.
A trio of memorials to the fallen soldiers of World War I occupies the area to the right of the choir loft. The first honours the Canadian Dragoons.
The second is dedicated to the fallen from New Zealand.
There is a large memorial to the soldiers of Australia, at Villers Bretonneux, 16 km east of Amiens. Hopefully, I will pay my respects there in 2017, along with visiting sites associated with American forces of that conflict.
The Grand Altar, in its glory, was my final view of Notre Dame d’Amiens, St. Firimin’s House. It is another bit of magnificence. Yet, as another observer mentioned, no one cathedral can be compared with another.
NEXT: A Circular Tour Around Amiens