The church Notre-Dame of Gouttières

Gouttières is a former commune in Eure, Normandy. In 2019, they had 181 inhabitants. Gouttières and 15 other communes merged in 2016 and formed the new commune Mesnil-en-Ouche. The main religion in Eure is Roman Catholic. The church of Notre-Dame in Gouttières is a Roman Catholic church.

View of Gouttières
View of Gouttières. The church stands next to the manor house. Own photo, 2021.

Around 1060 William FitzOsbern, 1st Earl of Hereford, Lord of Breteuil (1011-1071) – companion of William the Conqueror (1028-1087) – included the church of Notre-Dame of Gouttières in the founding charter of Lyre Abbey in La Vieille-Lyre (Eure). The first church of Gouttières is said to have been built on the other side of the valley, though.

The church that exists now, was built in the 12th century. Notre-Dame (‘Our Lady’) was a frequent name for churches in France in the 12th century. From its Romanesque origin, this church retains some remains in the apse and on the south wall.

The nave was rebuilt in the first half of the 16th century, a vast chapel was then attached to the south of the nave and an inscription attests that the choir was restored in 1575. The church was provided with a set of stained-glass windows, one of which shows the name of the donors and the date of its construction in 1559. All the churches in the region have been restored after the Council of Trent in 1545. These measures were part of the Counter-Reformation.

Église Notre-Dame de Gouttières
From this angle we can only see the parts restored in the 16th century. The chequered stone symbolizes the people (dark) and the church (light). The people are safe in the church, is the message this stone pattern tries to convey to the people. The Reformation was growing stronger in the 16th century, and the church tried to fight the protestants by enhancing the Roman Catholic buildings. That was of course not the only result of the Council of Trent. Own photo, 2022.
Église Notre-Dame de Gouttières
In the front you see the chapel that was added to the church in the 16th century. The yellowish part of the wall to the left marks the connection of new and old parts of the nave. The small portion at the right is the oldest part of the church. Own photo, 2022.
Église Notre-Dame de Gouttières
The 16th century chapel. Own photo, 2022.

This building consists of a nave, extended by a narrower choir, and a vast chapel acting as a transept arm to the south. An octagonal spire covered with slate is located at the entry side of the nave. The choir is the oldest part of the building and dates back to the 12th century. It is built in masonry of rubble stones of flint, limestone and grison (a grey bog iron found in wet plains in the natural region Perche) embedded in mortar. This grison is embedded in the oldest wall of the church, the small part to the right.

A part of the south wall of the nave, in coated rubble masonry, retains a few limestone keystones in the lower part of the wall, corresponding to an older window or door probably closed with a limestone frame in the 16th century. The south chapel is the most homogeneous part of the building. Its window to the east looks like the windows in the nave, but the southern window is bigger and built in the style Flamboyant (late Gothic architecture).

Église Notre-Dame de Gouttières
The mysterious “opening” in the south wall of the nave. Own photo, 2022.
Église Notre-Dame de Gouttières
The oldest part of the church. There used to be some kind of door to the east. And a path lead to this church through the valley. Nowadays, there is forest and a hike path. Own photo, 2022.
Église Notre-Dame de Gouttières
The interior of the church. The small arc in the back of the choir has the original size of the church. The bigger parts were added in the 16th century. The church pews were made in the 19th century. They show their old weathercock in the pulpit, that is obsolete since the Second Vatican Council (1962 to 1965). Own photo. 2022.
Poutre de gloire à Gouttières
The rood beam was created in the 16th century. It shows a crucifix, John the Baptist and Mary, mother of Jesus. Mary and John are approximately 150 cm high, Jesus and his cross are about 200 cm high. The sculptures are made of painted wood. Own photo, 2022.
Autel de l'Église Notre-Dame de Gouttières
The wooden parts of the main altar were made of painted wood in the 17th century. The altar stone was created in the 16th century. The wooden statue to the right depicts Saint Prix (Praejectus, 600-676). The statue of Saint Prix was made in the 16th century. With the Counter-Reformation, pilgrimage was very fashionable. Pilgrims brought Saint Prix from Clermont-Ferrand in Auvergne (France). Clermont-Ferrand is about 480 km away from Gouttières. Today, the Via Arverna starts in Clermont-Ferrand. It’s one of the ways to walk the Way of St James. But I don’t know anything about the pilgrim’s ways in the 16th century. Saint Prix (under the name Saint Priest) is a local saint and martyr of Clermont-Ferrand. Legend has it that Saint Prix was defending the people from injustice committed by the powerful. And therefore he was assassinated. The painting is not the original one. It is a beautiful church, but has some cringeworthy paintings. I don’t know how this could happen. Own photo, 2022.
The priests
This stained-glass window is confusing. It was donated by the five men in clothes of canon regulars in 1559. The home of these men is depicted above them. But I don’t recognize any of the depicted places. Then there is the symbol of a flower, which looks like the white rose of York. There was a pilgrim’s way going from Canterbury to Rome. It was called the Via Francigena. I think the sculptures on the rood beam are from somewhere in Picardie or Champagne. Châlons-en-Champagne is one of the places of the Via Francigena. I have no idea what this means, apart from being five men in the dress of clergy in 1559. The inscription isn’t helping much: L’AN 1559 LE 20E JOUR DE FEVRIER CETTE… VITRE A ETE DONNEE… MESSIRE PIERRE LACOTTE POSTEL ME NICOLE POSTEL ET… TOUS… DE CETTE PAROISSE 1559: In the year 1559, on the 20th of February, this window was donated by Sir Pierre Lacotte Postel and Madame Nicole Postel (his wife?) and all the parish. Are the five men their sons? Are there five priests in the parish? Own mysterious photo, 2022.
Fonts baptismaux de l'Église Notre-Dame de Gouttières
Baptismal fonts made of sandstone in the 15th century. Own photo, 2022.
Mystical beasts eat the roof beams
In 2005 the woodwork of the ceiling was restored. Old paint (from the time of the French Revolution (?)) was removed and rotten wood replaced. Under the paint they found the old paint. The panelled vault made of oak staves with joint covers. The vault bears a hand painted decoration of ermine paws and fleur-de-lis (royal lilies), for which no stencil was used. The ermine paws symbolize the Holy Trinity. The beams under the roof are carved as engouled beams, that means they end in the muzzle of mystical creatures. This way the creatures eat our sins. Which is very practical. Engouled beams are very common in Brittany, but I have seen several churches with engouled beams in Eure as well. Own photo, 2022.
Plafond de la nef
And in the centre, the highest point of the vault, there is an ornamental strip. Own photo, 2022.
The seigneur
This stained-glass window was made in the 16th century. It shows probably the local seigneur (lord of the fief), who has donated the window. But that’s only a guess. The website of the French ministry of culture states that this depicts a saint. If it is a saint, it could be, for example, Pancras of Rome. We’ll never know. The window was restored by Jean-Baptiste Devisme in 1943. The head of the figure was redone by J.P.Tisserand in 1985, replacing a 19th century head. Own photo, 2022.
Pilgrim's graffiti in Gouttières
These graffiti were made in the 16th century and onward. I don’t know when this custom stopped, but the pilgrims don’t do this any more (as far as I know). Pilgrim’s graffiti in many countries in medieval times. This is probably not very interesting for most people, but it’s one of my favourite topics. These triangle (?) signs are numerous on the church in Gouttières. I’m sure somebody told me what this means. But I forgot. And the internet doesn’t seem to know it either. I bought a book about medieval graffiti, but I still don’t know what it means. Will have to put the book under my pillow. Time travel might be a good idea too. Own photo, 2022.
Pilgrim's graffiti in Gouttières
An L and a chalice? “The chalice from the palace has the brew that is true?” I bought an LED lamp and will take photos like that in future with raking light (a light source at a narrow angle that casts shadows into the lines and makes the texture of a surface better visible). Own photo, 2022.
Pilgrim's graffiti in Gouttières
Looks like a cross and initials of a name. Carving into the walls of churches was not an act of vandalism. It was an act of prayer. People rubbed their fingers in the bigger holes to get dust. And this dust was blessed to them. Own photo, 2022.
Pilgrim's graffiti in Gouttières
A ship or boat. Travellers used to go up the river Risle by boat and then sometimes on ships to the sea. We can’t know why it was made. If it was a prayer to ask for a safe journey, or a prayer for loved ones lost at sea. Own photo, 2022.
Pilgrim's graffiti in Gouttières
Birds. Birds can have religious connotation (f.e dove as a symbol for the Holy Spirit), but somehow I don’t believe that this is meant here. The graffiti in Eure were made during pilgrimages. Every church had a pilgrimage and the pilgrims went around the churches. On their way around the church, they carved these graffiti. They were not bored choirboys nor acolytes. In some of our churches, we still have active pilgrimages. The people visit the church whenever they have time and not at a fixed time. Modern pilgrims leave small notes with their prayers inside the church instead of graffiti outside the church. I’m of course only guessing when I say, graffiti depicting birds are probably either prayers for luck at the hunt or for healthy chickens or pigeons. Every village in Eure had a castle or manor house, and the castle as well as the manor house had a pigeonry. In my opinion, the beliefs of the people were not very complicated. Own photo, 2022.
Procession banner of a religious brotherhood
This is a banner of the confrérie de la charité (brotherhood of charity) of Gouttières, now Mesnil-en-Ouche. It was carried during religious processions, meetings with other “charités” or during more elaborate funerals. I guess it was made in the 19th century.

I noticed now, that I never wrote a complete article about the Confrérie de charité. So let me quote myself:

The brotherhoods of charity were mainly responsible for (cheap) burials. That was before private undertakers were forced upon the population by law. That was not very nice of Napoleon I.

Members of the brotherhood used to carry or drag or half carry half drag the dead body out of the house. The corpse was fully dressed and there was straw in his pants to make them stiffer. The defunct was layed in the coffin in the church. The coffin was closed, a nice pall was put on the coffin and after some religious ceremonies the brotherhood carried the coffin out through the southern door of the church. This door was also called paradise-door because it led the soul into paradise. Very practical.

Side altar in the church Notre-Dame de Gouttières
The altar was made in the 17th century. The statues in the 16th and 17th century. The horrible painting is said to be from the 17th century. I don’t know. But it was created by a local painter. The religious banner was made in 1878. I bet it shows Saint Prix.

French sources for this article were: Eglise paroissiale Notre-Dame and other entries: Recherche Gouttières on POP : la plateforme ouverte du patrimoine, Eglise Notre-Dame on Observatoire du Patrimoine Religieux and Gouttières, Eglise Notre-Dame on la Sauvegarde de l’art Francais.

The book about medieval graffiti was written by Matthew Champion, it’s called “Medieval Graffiti” and has the ISBN 978-0-09-196041-4

The church Saint-Nicolas of Beaumont-le-Roger

Before the French Revolution there were 5 churches in Beaumont-le-Roger. Now there’s only one: Saint-Nicolas. It’s dedicated to Saint Nicholas.

In medieval times the church belonged first to the priory in Beaumont-le-Roger but later to the abbey of Le Bec-Hellouin.

The church was built in the 13th century. But there are only 3 columns left of that time. The three columns separate the nave from the southern side aisle. You see here the southern facade.

Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
It looks as if two different churches had been glued together.

The outer walls and the tower were built in the 15th century.

The choir and the northern side aisle were reconstructed in the 16th century.

The left part, the nave, was there before the right part, the choir. So maybe they just didn’t need to make the nave bigger. They used to work on the churches to make them bigger or because parts were on the brink of collapsing. Beaumont-le-Roger used to have 5 churches. I know three of them. The priory had a church and there’s a building on the other side of the town center that must have been a church. I just didn’t take photos there yet. With 5 churches the reason for alteration of a building might have been rather a bad state of the building and not the need for more space for all the believers. There are many churches in the region on which you can see the different states of the building during the centuries. After WWII they restored the building to the former state. That is what they claim. So I have to guess, that this is the former state. My guess² is that the style was different in the 16th century. The left part is gothic flamboyant in my opinion, while the choir on the right shows the influence of the renaissance style.

Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
Looking up in the choir.

The portal on the west side was built in the 17th century.

Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
The portal

During the French Revolution (1789-1799) the church became a public building. All bells except one were melt down and everything that was made of metal was taken away to “defend the Republic”. The church was used for Republican celebrations and to store grain on market days.

In 1802 the church was opened for Roman-Catholic Mass again.

Until 1902 there were small buildings around the church. They were then demolished and a wall was built around the church, as well as a staircase to access the church.

The church was damaged severely by bombs during WWII. Only the northern side and the bell tower stayed intact. Most of the interior was gone. The church was restored from 1951 to 1971 to its former state.

Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
Southern aisle. The windows on this side are newer. This side has been destroyed in WWII.

There are several historic windows on the northern side.

Baie 16 Credo Apostolique 15e siècle
Window 16. This church window was made in the 15th century. It shows the Apostles’ Creed.
Baie 14 Résurrection de la fille de Jaïre, Résurrection de Lazare
Window 14. This church window was made in the 16th century. It shows the raising of Jairus’ daughter and the raising of Lazare. There’s a guy on the right who holds something that could be a musical instrument. Or he’s deaf and it’s a hearing aid and he wants to get cured by Jesus. There’s a medieval manuscript from the 12th century in the Bibliothèque nationale de France (National Library of France) that shows King Arthur hunting while using an ear trumpet.
Baie 7 Noces de Cana, Miracle de Théophile
Window 7. This church window was made in 1550. It shows the wedding at Cana and the miracle of Theophilus of Adana.
Baie 9 la Passion
Window 9. This church window was made in 1557. It shows the Passion of Jesus.
Baie 11: Entrée du Christ à Jérusalem
Fenster 11. This window was made in 1553. It shows the Entry of Christ into Jerusalem.
Baie 15: Décollation de saint Christophe (baie 15)
Window 15. This is a bit more complicated and also made in the 16th century. On the upper field Saint Christopher is baptised. On the lower right field Saint Christopher carries Jesus over the river and on the lower left Saint Christopher gets beheaded. “Décollation” is derived from latin: collum (neck) and means cutting the neck, just like “beheading”. Makes you wonder why there are so many words for things like that. On Flickr we had a little digression over the topic of Saint-Christopher. In the art of the Eastern Orthodox church he’s often shown with the head of a dog when he carries Jesus. Legend has it, that he became human because he was carrying Jesus. That’s of course very odd, since dog people have never existed. Historians seem to fight about the reason for this. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was really a translation error because somebody read “Cananeus” (Canaanite) as “caninus” (translation is always difficult and weird errors occur all the time, think of Chinese instruction manuals). But we’ll never know. The other historians, that don’t think it’s a bad translation, think it’s a reference to Anubis. I think it’s a bit far fetched, really. Originally it was Osiris who was protected by Anubis and Osiris was no child. Anubis brings the deceased to the water, but he doesn’t carry them over the water. Horus was a child but he didn’t die. There is of course a resemblance between the relationship of Mary and Jesus and Isis and Horus. Anubis had a brother by name of Upuaut, who was also a dog-headed god (jackal). He is actually a more likely candidate for Saint Christopher, since he was “the opener of ways” which could be interpreted as travelling. And he was often depicted standing in the skiff of the dead. Charon was never depicted with a dog’s head. You see .. I could go on and on.
Aigle-lutrin d'église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
In the choir. The eagle lectern was made in the 18th-century.
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
Southern side altar in mono.
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
The main altar in mono.
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
The baptismal font.
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
View of the nave.
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
The organ.
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
This looks like one of the older columns.
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
Ceiling of a side aisle.
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
One of the new old gargoyles.
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
I love gargoyles and just look at that little angel to the left.
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
Big mouth strikes again.
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
Horloge d'édifice : Regulus dit jacquemart
Meet Regulus, a Roman centurion made in 1825. He is supposed to bang on the bells with the things he holds in his hand. But I never saw it happen.

The church is open during the day. And a lot of people visit it, to pray, light candles or play the organ or listen to the organist.

Candles in the church of Beaumont-le-Roger
Candles in Saint-Nicolas.
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
The church seen from a car park in the middle of the town. A lot of those houses look interesting.
Decoration on the facade at the eastern side.
Gargoyles on the church Saint-Nicolas of Beaumont
The new old facade with a line of gargoyles.

I will add new photos below.

Gargoyle on the church Saint-Nicolas in Beaumont-le-Roger
My parents in law visited us this September (2022) and they stayed in a gîte (holiday accommodation) opposite to the church. I was able to take some shots out of their windows on the first and second floor. Look at that ape to the left of the gargoyle.
Gargoyle on the church Saint-Nicolas in Beaumont-le-Roger
Gargoyles on the church Saint-Nicolas in Beaumont-le-Roger
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
The line of gargoyles at the facade and the church place (place de l’église).
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
The entrance door.
Clocher de l'Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
The bell tower.

I just did some research and found this old postcard, taken before WWII and there the styles are also different, but the choir doesn’t look as big as it looks now.

And I found only one image online, to show the damages after WWII. The whole southern facade was gone.

All the photographs are of course made by me. Why the heck do I write in English? I comment my photographs on Flickr in English. I’m lazy. It’s far easier to copy my own “outpourings” than to write new ones.

Amiens Cathedral

Amiens Cathedral is a Catholic church located in Amiens in the French department Somme in the region Hauts-de-France. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, it the cathedral belongs to the diocese of Amiens. Its overall length is 145 meters and its height is 42.30 meters. Classified as a Historic Monument in France since 1862, it has been listed since 1981 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Western facade of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame of Amiens:

Cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens

The 13th century cathedral of Amiens is huge. The next picture shows a view of the choir.

Dans la Cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens

The west portals of the Cathedral of Amiens were built in the 13th-century.

West portals of the Cathedral of Amiens

The northern side aisles were built at the end of the 13th century until the second half of the 14th century. The building was enhanced in the 15th century. Which included a reinforcement of the pillar structure.

Bas-côté nord de la nef

The portal of Saint Firmin (a local saint) on the west facade. The portal was built from 1220 to 1230.

Portail du Saint Firmin

The nave of the cathedral was classified as cultural heritage site in 1862.

Nave of the Cathedral of Amiens

The portal of the Golden Virgin (la Vierge dorée) on the southern side of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame d’Amiens was built in the 13th century.

Portail de la Vierge Dorée

In the transept:

Croisillon nord du transept de la cathédrale d'Amiens

The rose window in the north transept was made at the end of the 13th or the beginning of the 14th century.

Rose du croisillon nord du transept de la cathédrale d'Amiens

The fight of James the Great against Hermogenes. This relief was created after 1511.

La Lutte de saint Jacques contre Hermogène

The chapel of Saint Joseph was created in 1291, but it was dedicated to somebody else. Later it was dedicated to Charles Borromeo (1538-1584). In 1832 it was dedicated to Saint Joseph. The marble altar was made in 1756. The statue in the center was created in 1833.

Chapelle Saint-Joseph

The painting The Assomption of Mary was made by Frans Francken II (1581-1642) in the chapel: Chapelle Notre-Dame du Puy or Chapelle du Pilier rouge.

Assomption de la Bienheureuse Vierge Marie

Tomb of Adrien de Hénencourt, who died in 1530, he was a canon (and not cannon) of the cathedral chapter. This tomb was made between 1527 and 1531. I guess the careful man starts early to build his grave. Tombs like that are called “enfeu”, in the fire.

Enfeu du doyen Adrien de Hénencourt

Windows of the chapels of Sacré-Cœur (Sacred Heart), Axiale (Axial) and Saint-François d’Assise (Francis of Assisi). Pierre Gaudin made the blueish windows to the left in 1933. His nephew Jean Gaudin made the red looking windows in the middle (left) in 1932 and 1933. The blue (and red) stained glass windows to the right were made in 1240. They were found in a storage room after a fire. Those panels were restored in 1984 by Jeannette Weiss-Gruber. She also made replacements for the window panels that were missing. Those windows were inserted in the 1990s.

Verrières de la chapelle du Sacré-Cœur, Axiale et Saint-François d'Assise de la cathédrale d'Amiens

The chapel of the Sacred Heart was built in or around 1240, but it was decorated completely different. You wouldn’t guess it, because it looks rather tasteful, but all the interior decoration except the flags and the windows was made in the 19th century. In 1866 they had a cholera epidemic and the bishop of Amiens thought it would be a good idea to follow the cult of Sacré-Cœur (Sacred Heart). Usually Sacred Heart means that there is a Jesus somewhere who points at his bleeding heart entwined by thorns. Luckily not here. Eugène Viollet-le-Duc painted the decoration of the chapel. Théodore Maillot and Auguste Steinheil painted the saints. Placide Poussielgue-Rusand made the altar and Aimé and Louis Duthoit made the statues. All in the 19th century. The windows were made in 1932-1933 by Jean Gaudin in the 20th century. And the flags are those of the allies that defended Amiens in 1918.

Chapelle du Sacré-Cœur

Built around 1240 the Axpal chapel was restored in the 19th century and changed as far as the interior goes. The altar was made in 1862 by Louis Duthoit. The statue of Madonna and Child was made in the 19th century by Louis Bachelet. The windows were made by one of the Gaudins, probably in the 20th century.

Chapelle axiale

Darker view of the windows of the Chapelle axiale. They were made by the Gaudins. Probably in the 20th century. They tell the story of the life of Mary, mother of Jesus.

Chapelle axiale vitraux

From left to right those are the windows of the Chapelle axiale (blueish), Chapelle du Sacré-Cœur (redish) and Chapelle Saint-François d’Assise (blueish). The windows in the Chapelle Saint-François d’Assise were made in 1991 by usage of shards of the old 13th century windows. The windows of the Chapelle du Sacré-Cœur were made in 1932-1933 by Jean Gaudin.

Church windows of the Cathedral of Amiens

In the 19th century Alfred Gérente made this window in the Chapelle Sainte-Theudosie in the style of the 13th century. It shows the life of Theudosie d’Amiens, a local saint. At the bottom of the window the donors Napoleon III. and his wife Eugénie pray in front of an altar. Above them are the Pope Pius IX and the bishop Antoine de Salinis.

Chapelle Sainte-Theudosie

Fun fact about th grave of canon Guilain Lucas: it hosts five corpses. There is no space to waste in this cathedral. The first defunct here is Arnoul de la Pierre, bishop of Amiens and he died in 1247. In 1751 they needed more space and placed Cardinal Jean de La Grange (1325-1402) on top of Arnoul de la Pierre. That’s the gisant (lying figure). On top of the two is the effigy of canon Guilain Lucas, an otherwise not too important man who died in 1628. The sculptures were made in 1636. They show him, a Madonna and a weeping angel. The weeping angel is the most known sculpture of Nicolas Blasset (1600-1659), a sculptor from Amiens. In WWI British and American soldiers have sent postcards depicting this angel to their families and that’s why it’s wellknown. In this tomb lie also 2 nephews of Guilain Lucas, Guillin Lucas (who died in 1648) and Honoré Gabriel Brunel (who died in 1676). They were also canons.

Tombeau du chanoine Guilain Lucas

This choir chapel was changed in 1853. They built a spiral staircase that leads to the upper floor. You can’t see it on this photo. They added a door to a bigger choir chapel too and you can’t see it here. But there’s a small green exit-sign and under it is a door that leads to an outer building called Chapelle des catéchismes, which is or was used in winter and is also called Chapelle d’Hiver (winter chapel). It’s a small building and doesn’t need much heating. The windows of this choir chapel contain rests of the 13th century windows, that show the life of Mary, mother of Jesus and Saint Leonard of Noblac (died 559 AD). The painting to the left was created in the 18th century and shows the Transfiguration of Jesus (an event where Jesus is transfigured and becomes radiant in glory upon a mountain).

Chapelle Saint-Quentin

In the 13th-century nave.

In the nave of Amiens Cathedral

View of the northern transept.

View of the northern transept

This altar stands at the northern side of the ambulatory in Amiens Cathedral. It’s called Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Pitié. The altar was made by Jean-Baptiste Dupuis in 1756.

Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Pitié

The relief scenes to the left show the life of Saint Sebastian. The reliefs were made in the 16th century. This is the northern ambulatory in Amiens cathedral.

La partie nord de la clôture du chœur

What do we know? To the left is the gisant (lying sculpture) of Gérard de Conchy, who was bishop in Amiens from 1247 to 1257. Which means he died in 1257 and his funeral monument must be from the 13th century. But what kind of altar is the altar to the right? And the painting. It looks so much like Icons from the Eastern churches. I should have asked the woman that was sitting there. But I didn’t want to disturb anybody. I know the first line of this comment is rather metaphysical, compared to the rest of the comment. I didn’t want to write: “what do I know?” I say this a hundred times per day and it expresses my helplessness towards and ignorance of the world in general.

What do we know?

The is part of the northern fence around the choir in Amiens Cathedral. It shows life and death of Saint John the Baptist. The small reliefs in the base show how he was born and when he went into the desert and things like that. The upper alcoves show from the right to the left: John the Baptist preaches in the desert, John the Baptist baptises Jesus, John the Baptist answers the Pharisees and John the Baptist bears witness to Jesus.

Vie et mort de Saint-Jean-Baptiste

Funeral monument of François Faure. François Faure (1612-1687) was bishop in Amiens from 1653 to 1687. He died from a stroke in Paris. His body is buried in the cathedral, his heart in Paris. The funeral monument was made by Jean-Baptiste Duquet in 1687.

Funeral monument of François Faure

The funeral monument of bishop (1706-1733) Pierre Sabatier (1654-1733) was created in 1748 by Jean-Baptiste Dupuis. Imo Pierre Sabatier looks rather happy. I like him. He forbade hunting for clerics in 1715 and they didn’t kill him right away.

Tombeau de l´évêque Pierre Sabatier

Chapelle Saint-Jean-du-Vœu. The original chapel in this place was created in 1291. But from 1709 to 1711 it was refurbished. François Faure (we met him already on another photo) commanded the changing because of a plague (Black Death) in 1699.

Chapelle Saint-Jean-du-Vœu

Rose of the southern transept. There is a net in front of the lower part of the window. It’s because there are small stones falling down? I think it was something like that. The southern rose of the transept of Amiens Cathedral was made at the end of the 15th- and start of the 16th-century. There are a lot of angels depicted. The artist was a man from Picardie (northern France).

Rose du croisillon sud du transept

The Temple of Jerusalem. This bas-relief in the transept is officially classified as historical monument. It was made after 1500 but before 1522/1523. The canon that payed for it died in 1522 or 1523. It shows the cleansing of the Temple. It’s made of stone.

Bas-relief le Temple de Jérusalem

Chaire de verité. This pulpit was made in 1773. “Chaire de verité”, pulpit of truth is a rather dramatical designation the French use for every pulpit, not only this one. The sculptor was Jean-Baptiste Dupuis and the architect Pierre-Joseph Christophle ( 1715-1781).

Chaire de verité

Door at the transept. I have no idea if this is the exit to the west or east. It might be built at the end of the 13th or at the start of the 14th century. Looks much better in monochrome.

Porte du transept

View of the transept.

View of the transept

The rose of the northern transept in Amiens Cathedral was made at the end of the 13th- or beginning of the 14th-century.

Rose du croisillon nord du transept de la cathédrale d'Amiens

View of the ambulatory of Amiens Cathedral. The red windows are those of the Chapelle du Sacré-Cœur. This part of the bulding was created in the 13th-century around 1240.


In the far left corner is a war memorial for Australian forces that fought on the side of the French to defend Amiens in WWI in 1918. I think this is a side aisle of the transept. Amiens cathedral is huge and a bit puzzling.

Side aisle Amiens Cathedral

The chevet seen from the southeast. This part of the cathedral was built between the years 1290 and 1375. The statue shows Peter the Hermit (1050-1115 or 1131). He looks rather angry, as if he wanted to ram the crucifix in our hearts or as if we were all vampires. Reason for this is, his legend. He is said to have initiated and conducted the First Crusade (1096-1099). He WOULD ram his crucifix somewhere if he were with us today and if we were no devoted Catholics (which I’m not). In the late 11th century they were kind of serious concerning religious devotion. They probably thought after all Peter is from Amiens. But that makes me wonder, if they have a Hitler monument in the Austrian town where Hitler was born. Okay I exaggerate, but: ” Jerusalem was reached in June 1099 and the Siege of Jerusalem resulted in the city being taken by assault from 7 June to 15 July 1099, during which its defenders were ruthlessly massacred.” (Wikipedia The statue was inaugurated in 1854 and made by Gédéon de Forceville (1799-1886).

Cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens

This gisant (lying tomb figure) was made of bronze in the 13th century. This gisant and the other one in the Cathedral are the only bronze sculptures of the 13th century that still exist in France. All the others were destroyed by the revolutionists. They were recast as cannons.

Évrard de Fouilloy (1145-1222) initiated the construction of Amiens Cathedral and he even placed the cornerstone. He had the vision that the Cathedral would be visited by pilgrims of whole Europe and to ensure that, he brought relic of the face of John the Baptist to Amiens.

That’s another story, but in short: this relic consists of the front of a human skull and legend has it that it was stolen in Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade by a canon from Picquigny (Somme) named Wallon de Sarton. The story is of course rather exotic. They wouldn’t have said the relic was stolen, it was regained. And legend has it, that Wallon de Sarton got it in 1206, while the Fourth Crusade went from 1202 to 1204. And the crusaders sacked Constantinople in 1204. We’ll never know.

Gisant Évrard de Fouilloy

This chapel is called Chapelle Notre-Dame de Foy. The wood panelling was made in 1765. The altar in the centre hosts a relief made by Nicolas Blasset (1600-1659), who made also the weeping angel. The relief made in 1655 of white marble against red marble rouge de Rance shows the Annunciation.

Chapelle Notre-Dame de Foy

The Chapelle Saint-Étienne was built in 1300. The decoration was carried out like this in 1768. The painting on the altar however was made by Laurent de La Hyre (1606 -1656) in 1628. It depicts the “Swoon of the Virgin”. Nicolas Blasset (1600-1659) sculpted the statues of Saint Stephen and Augustine of Hippo. The painting to the left was painted by G. Gouget (whoever that was) in 1841. Its theme is “Jesus Descent from the Cross” and it was added because the chapels serve as Stations of the Cross.

Chapelle Saint-Étienne

Southern side aisle in front of the chapel Sainte-Marguerite. The chapel was built in 1292. The metal fence was made in 1769. The north and south side aisles or collaterals of the nave are 19.7m high and the width between the axes of the columns is 8.65 m. The view leads to the ambulatory.

Nef collatérale sud

The choir of Amiens Cathedral was built in 1260, 30 years after the nave. The wall around the choir was made in 1530. The iron gate was forged in the years 1755 to 1768 by Jean Veyren (1707-1788). The two statues depict Vincent de Paul and Charles Borromeo were created by Jean-Baptiste Dupuis (1698-1780).

Chœur de la Cathedrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens

Chapelle Saint-Sébastien. First a comment regarding the light. The first version I made was rather dark. It had beautiful natural light. But the light was on the chairs and chairs aren’t that interesting. So I made this version. It IS dark in Amiens Cathedral and thus this picture was made with ISO 1600. And it was still rather dark. Therefore the structure is not as smooth as it would be with ISO 100.

Now to the content. In the front to the left is the chapel of Saint Sebastian. Its place is at the northern end of the ambulatory. It was built in 1339. Its sculptures were carried out by Nicolas Blasset (1600-1659) in 1634. To the left of the altar stands Saint Roch with his dog, to the right stands Louis IX of France and above the altar stands Saint Sebastian. The female statues at the head of the altar are Justice (left) and Peace (right).

The altar carries a painting by Guillaume Hergosse (1640-1711). It shows the Crucifixion of Jesus.

Chapelle Saint-Sébastien

The is the center stone of the labyrinth in Amiens Cathedral. The inscription reads: “In the year of grace 1220, this work was begun. The blessed bishop of this diocese was then Evrard, King of France was Louis, son of Philippe le Sage. The one who was project manager was named Master Robert and nicknamed “of Luzarches”. After him came Master Thomas de Cormont and after him his son Master Renaut who put in this place, this inscription in the year of the incarnation 1288.”

La pierre centrale

The nave of Amiens Cathedral was built from 1220 to 1236.

In the nave of Amiens Cathedral

War memorial in Amiens Cathedral for the soldiers of Great Britain and Ireland who fell in WWI.

Monument aux morts

The portal of the “Vierge Dorée” (Golden Mary, mother of Jesus). If I understood right, those statues depict local saints.

Le portail de la Vierge Dorée

Le portail de la Vierge Dorée

All the photos in this article were made by myself and uploaded to Flickr beforehand.

The Porte François Ier

Porte François Ier

This is the most interesting part of the Citadelle of Amiens. The Porte François Ier (Gate of King Francis I of France (1494-1547)) was built from 1524 to 1531 and was part of the mediaeval fortifications around Amiens. François Ier feared attacks from the north. The Spanish were allied with the Dutch. Usually you’d think the Spanish come from the south but not in those times.

François Ier was at war most of the time. There were the Italian Wars, a series of conflicts that went on and off from 1494 to 1559.

Coat of arms in the Porte François Ier

Blason dans la Porte François Ier

This is a coat of arms inside the Porte François Ier.

So to whom or to which city does it belong? The internet doesn’t know. I hate heraldry. There’s a book by Terry Pratchett in which he shows very good what I think about heraldry (“Feet of Clay”). I won’t go into detail. It is possible to describe a coat of arms very detailed with the language the heraldist uses. This language seems to be the normal language of the land where the heraldist lives but as if he or rather all heraldist were suffering from exactly the same kind of aphasia. Red for example is not red, it’s gules (from French “gueules” = muzzles, jaws)!

This coat of arms looks partially like the coat of arms of Amiens, which describes today as: “Of gules to ivy of argent, the chief azure sown of fleurs-de-lis Or.” That means the lower part is red with white ivy branches and the upper part is blue with yellow lilies sprinkled over it. There are obviously no colours on the coat of arms on the wall. The lower part looks good, and the crown above the escutcheon looks good too, but I really don’t know what the chequer is supposed to mean (“chequy” in the heraldist language). So maybe a very bad sculptor has made this coat of arms, or the sculptor didn’t understand heraldic language or it’s not the coat of arms of Amiens. We’ll never know.

Why did I write this? My car broke in May when I was on the way from France to Germany. It broke near Amiens, so I had to visit the city.