Amiens Cathedral: western portals
The procession of prophets (Ordo Prophetarum) on the front surfaces of the four buttresses invites us to linger and consider the sweep of Old Testament prophesy with its consolations and admonitions, here laid out from right to left, yet the portals induce us to hurry forward and enter. The prophets laid out the way to the Incarnation of Christ, the theme of the right portal which features the Mother of God (Mère Dieu) powerfully depicted in the central support (trumeau) while the tympanum depicts the end of the Virgin Mary's sojourn on earth, the Dormition and the Assumption and her final union with Christ. Since the Virgin Mary personified the Church, this was understood as the Church Triumphant at the end of time.
The central portal brings two levels of time: first, the Mission of Christ on Earth and the vocation of the Apostles and, second, his Second Coming, when all humans will be judged (central tympanum). The left portal is about the Church Militant: the saints who brought Christianity to Amiens and found martyrdom. These saints are still present in the cathedral in the form of the relics which still reside in the choir. The saints present themselves in the column figures that line the portal while the tympanum tells the story of the miraculous discovery of the lost body of Saint Firmin.
We are finally ready to enter....