A Notre Dame at Amiens!

Ok so you know we have a lot of Notre Dame in France, and it means Our Lady or signified the Mother of Jesus , Mary. There is a very famous one in Paris but there is the biggest in Amiens. I have written little on Amiens yet visited several times over the years. I need to get going here folks; so let me tell you a bit about the Cathédrale Notre Dame d’Amiens.

Wait a minute, this is a huge task just looking at the library of yours truly so much written on it and so much information, will need to write another book on it. However, been the uncreative guy I am , let me tell you just a bit on it on this post ok.

The Cathedral of  Notre-Dame in Amiens, the biggest medieval and religious building in France (twice the size of Notre Dame of Paris) . It is 145 meters long ,with an arrow top at 112 meters, the nave vaults are 42 meters high.  OF course, it is in Amiens, dept 80 of the Somme in the region of Hauts de France.

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The Cathedral Notre Dame of Amiens has lost most of its original stained glass, but it remains famous for its 13C Gothic sculptures adorning its western facade and the portal of the Golden Virgin on the south facade of the transept, as well as the stalls, work of art in cabinetry. Its architectural unity is evident, except for the upper parts of the two towers. The elevation of the nave of the choir and the transept reflects the ingenuity and boldness of the builders.

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The current Notre Dame Cathedral occupies a site where several sanctuaries have followed one another and of which the historians knows little, due to the lack of texts and archaeological excavations. Catholic tradition, however, traces the Christianisation of Amiens to the arrival at the end of the 3C of Firmin who would have suffered martyrdom at the end of the 3C or at the very beginning of the 4C. He is considered by Catholics as the first bishop of Amiens. The first church was dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul, later to Saint Firmin the Confessor; the second devoted to Our Lady and to Saint Firmin the Martyr. Following a fire which destroyed a large part of the city, a new Romanesque church was built between 1137 and 1152, the year of its consecration, but there are any document to determine what it was. The prestige increased dramatically with the arrival in 1206 of the chief of Saint John the Baptist.

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At the beginning of the 13C, period of the reign of king Philippe-Auguste, Amiens knew a period of prosperity. It was the bishop Évrard de Fouilloy who would have laid the first stone of the church under the pillar supporting the statue of the Golden Virgin at the south portal of the transept. It was necessary to offer the relic of Saint John the Baptist a case worthy of the importance of the character. And to welcome pilgrims from all over Europe, you had to think big. The construction work begins with the foundations in 1220 and the laying of the first stone takes place the same year as evidenced by the inscriptions in the labyrinth and above the portal called the Golden Virgin.

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The Notre Dame Cathedral is erected on a plan in the shape of a Latin cross and is liturgically oriented from East to West, with an inclination to the south of about 23 degrees. It has a surface of 7,700 m2 and a volume of 200,000 meters. Its aisle with aisles opens onto a transept overflowing with collaterals and a Choir which includes five naves. The bedside consists of three straight spans with double side pieces. The ambulatory is surrounded by seven radiating chapels, of which the central one, the axial chapel, resembles in architecture the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, of which it is contemporary. The elevation in the nave is tripartite: large arcades, triforium and the skylight of the tall windows. The pillars supporting the arches are round and confined by four columns. The rib vaults are supported by engaged columns.

During the French revolution: In December 1793, volunteers from Lille entered the Notre Dame Cathedral and mutilated with sabre the sculptures of the enclosure of the choir; they were restored in the 19C. The statue of Saint Louis in the Chapelle du Pilier or Chapel of the Pillar was destroyed, crosses were also removed, but most of the carved decoration was preserved. In 1793, the cathedral was transformed into a temple of Reason and Truth and then, in 1794, a temple of the Supreme Being. Catholic worship was restored there in 1795.

During WWI: In 1915 during an episode of intense bombardment, the three portals of the main facade as well as the portal of the Golden Virgin were covered with a formwork made up of dirt sacks, to protect as much as possible their sculpted decoration. In July 1918, during the last German offensive in the west, the cathedral fell under the fire of the German imperial troops, in spite of the intervention of the Pope with the Emperor William II. On April 4, a shell crossed the roof of the choir, without much damage. On the 25th of the same month, three shells reached the cathedral and a buttress was destroyed, the vault of the south aisle of the choir was pierced as well as the paving, a third shell destroyed the first span of the southern triforium and opened the wind tunnel of the organ placed there. A few days later, the vault of the Chapelle de l’Annonciation or Chapel of the Annunciation was pierced by a shell, the first flying buttress south of the apse was destroyed by another and a third touched the outside of the cathedral near the sacristy. The grandstand organ was dismantled by the Paris fire brigade, the stained glass windows were also dismantled and sent to Paris to be restored there before reassembly. Unfortunately, they were largely destroyed by an accidental fire in the Paris premises where they were stored.

During WWII: In May 1940, during the Nazis bombardments which destroyed a large part of the city center. Many of the buildings surrounding the Notre Dame Cathedral were destroyed, but fortunately the cathedral was not affected. Allied bombing in 1944 also spared the cathedral.

In 1981, the Notre Dame Cathedral of Amiens was inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO. In 1998 it was registered a second time under the Routes of Compostela in France. Some of the events and I pick my favorites are: king Charles VIII and Queen Anne of Brittany came to Amiens on June 11, 1493 and went to the Notre Dame Cathedral. On September 25, 1513, Louis XII attended, at the Notre Dame Cathedral of Amiens, the Mass of the feast of Saint Firmin. In June 1517, it was François I and Queen Claude of France who came to Amiens and went to the cathedral. King Henry IV came twice to the Notre Dame Cathedral of Amiens to attend a religious ceremony, the first time on August 18, 1594 after the city recognized him as king of France, the second time on September 25, 1597 after the city was taken over from the Spanish. King Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu attended a thanksgiving ceremony at the Notre Dame Cathedral after the fall of Arras, from the Spanish on August 9, 1640.

Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul, accompanied by Joséphine de Beauharnais, visiting the Notre Dame Cathedral and struck by the beauty and majesty of the cathedral, would have said this sentence: “Atheists must not be well here”, June 28, 1803. The October 12, 1854, Napoleon III and the Empress Eugenie, attended in the Notre Dame Cathedral the inauguration of the Chapelle Sainte-Theudosie chapel whose Empress Eugenie had financed, on her personal wealth, the refitting and decoration under the direction of Eugène Viollet -le Duc. On November 7, 1920, Marshal Foch attended the inauguration ceremony for the monument in memory of the Australian soldiers who died on the soil of the Somme department during WWI or Great War.

This is a huge wonderful gorgeous Cathedral that needs to be visited by all means while in France. Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Official Notre Dame Cathedral in English

Official Notre Dame Cathedral on the 800 years anniversary in French

city of Amiens on the Notre Dame Cathedral in French

Tourist office of the Somme dept 80 on Notre Dame Cathedral in French

And there you go folks just a brief introduction to what should be on anybody’s list of things to see in France. Remember, Notre Dame Cathedral in AMIENS, Somme dept 80, region of Hauts de France, in my belle France!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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2 Comments to “A Notre Dame at Amiens!”

  1. wow, beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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