Introduction to the Choir Tour

The Choir: Sacred Topography

The Choir

The canons' stalls occupied two bays; in the third bay lateral entrances opened into the choir aisles

The Eagle Lectern

At certain points during the Divine Office or Mass singers might group around the central lectern shaped like an eagle to sing anthems and other choral pieces.  Readings might also take place.

The Sanctuary

To the east of the choir and two steps up.  At the entrance to the sanctuary was a transverse glory beam (poutre de gloire; trabs in Latin) which carried 12 chandeliers

Main Altar (majus altare):

The main altar was consecrated in 1483 by Bishop Pierre Versé.  It was surrounded by curtains supported by six copper columns (visible on the plan) given by Archdeacon Jean Leclerc in 1511.  The color of the altar frontal--green, white, red--varied by season. On the altar the great central cross was flanked by candles. Above the altar were alabaster images of the Virgin, John Baptist, and John Evangelist. The Eucharistic Host was conserved in a vessel suspended above the altar. At the back was a silver and gold  winged retable with the Crucifixion flanked by John and Mary.  The retable and relic boxes would be ceremoniously uncovered to mark great feast days.

The existing altar dates from 1761: at the back is a casket displaying the relics of Saints Firmin and Honoré.   Behind this is a baroque sculptural composition known as La gloire: the architect was Christophle and the sculptor Dupuis.

Relic Tribune:

Behind and above the altar was an arcaded stone tribune or gallery carrying the relic boxes or châsses of 10 saints: Firmin Martyr (center) and Confessor (left), Honoré (right), Fuscien, Domice, Ulphe, Ache Acheul, Warlus and Luxor plus chasse with chin of St Blimond. Access to the gallery was provided by little flanking spiral staircases. The tribune was the gift of Bishop François de Halluin in the early 16th century, though some kind of elevated display must have been in place already when the choir was first occupied by the clergy c. 1270. A contemporanious example of a relic tribune can be seen at the Sainte-Chapelle

Little Altar (parvum altare postaltere):

The little altar might be used if there was a second mass in the day.  It was decorated in 1484 with Mise au Tombeau. Destroyed in 1723. 

Location of the Bishop's throne: 

The throne, reworked in the late 15th century, was put into position when the bishop presided over Mass on a great feast day.  The throne was flanked by the seats of deacon and sub-deacon.

Relics of Saint Firmin and Honoré in an 18th-century casket

Relics of Saint Firmin and Honoré in an 18th-century casket

Sainte-Chapelle Reliquary Tribune

Sainte-Chapelle Reliquary Tribune

Eagle Lecturn
Eagle Lecturn