D’Artagnan’s trip to London: Amiens, April 1625

And the travelers buried their rowels in their horses’ flanks, who thus vigorously stimulated recovered their energies. They arrived at Amiens at midnight, and alighted at the auberge of the Golden Lily.

Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers, 1844

D’Artagnan and Aramis arrived at Amiens at midnight, and had not slept for close to 48 hours; they alighted at the auberge of the Golden Lily. In French, fleur means “flower”, and lis means “lily”. At the time, the fleur de lis was not only used in heraldry, but also in decorative design, and as a symbol of religious, political, and national unity. Could naming the Inn after the lily be like placing an american flag at a car dealership?

The Notre-Dame d’Amiens Cathedral was constructed between 1220 and 1270 and hosts a singular reliquary for the head of John the Baptist. The skull was supposedly passed from person to person, place to place, and brought back by Wallon de Sarton on his return from the 4th Crusade.  Interestingly, other christians believe that the same head is on display in Rome or buried in Turkey, while muslims believe it is inside the Umayyad Mosque in Syria.


Reliquary for the head of St. John the Baptist in Amiens

The Amiens Cathedral is also famous for its elaborate sculpted portals. The central portal shows a representation of the Last Judgment, and features the “Beau-Dieu d’Amiens”: a standing Christ, wearing a long tunic, and with his feet on a dragon and a lion. The other two portals are dedicated to Saint-Firmin (first bishop of the city) and the virgin Mary.
Back in the days, the portals of the cathedral were painted brightly. Thanks to the surreal work of Atelier Skertzo on the Amiens Cathedral in 2011 (click link here for video), we get to rediscover what time and pollution has taken away from us.

Detail of the Portal of the Mother of God, Amiens, tibo@image.fr


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