Clôture 1

Southern Lateral Screen (clôture) 1490s-c.1530

Story of St. Firmin (d. 303)

By the 1490s the clergy were ready to embark upon a major renovation of their choir. The first step, initiated by Dean Adrien de Hénencourt, involved the construction of a lateral screen (clôture) dividing the central choir from the flanking southern aisles. The screen served three functions: first, to mask the back of the choir stalls, soon to be replaced. Second, the screen provided an appropriate setting for the tombs of the dean and his uncle, Bishop Ferry de Beauvoir. Bishop Ferry had been on the wrong side in the Franco-Burgundian struggle of the 1460s and had been forced out of office when French forces regained control of Amiens in 1470 . He died soon afterwards. In 1480 his nephew was able to bring his body back to Amiens and to seek to rehabilitate him with a tomb that made reference to the first bishop of Amiens, Saint Firmin. The third function was to provide a vehicle for the narration of the story of the arrival and mission of Firmin and his execution followed by the rediscovery of his lost body and its translation back into the city of Amiens. The story is told in the hyper-realistic painted sculpture of the eight niches which occupy a shallow stage space framed by Flamboyant architecture. The story has a powerful left-to-right pull, leading pilgrims forward to the point where the image of the relic box is about to enter the city and where the pilgrim can actually see the real relic box through the lateral gate in the third bay.
Dean Adrien de Hénencourt died in 1530 soon before the completion of the southern screen: his 1527 testament specified that he should be buried close to the scene of the miracle where a bright light led Bishop Sauve to the discovery of the lost relics.
Comprehension of the scenes is enhanced by the inscriptions below.

St. Firmin's arrival and preaching in Amiens

Arrival in Amiens:

Le disieme de octobre Amiens. Saint Fremin fit premiere entrée. Dont Faustininien et les siens. Ont grande joye demonstrée.

On the tenth day of October Saint Firmin made his first entry [into] Amiens: At which Faustinien and his people rejoiced greatly. 


Au peuple d'Amiens anuncha la sainte loy evangelique. Tant que pluseurs deulz adrescha a tenir la foy catholoque.

He brought the teaching of the holy gospel to the people of Amiens. So that many of them adopted the Catholic faith.

Baptizing and arrest of St. Fermin


Faustinien. la noble attille. femme agrippin famille enfans Baptisa avec trois fois mille pour une jour la foy confessans.

[Firmin] baptized Faustinianus, the noble Attilla, wife of Agrippa, [their] family [and] children together with three thousand [others] in a single day, confessing the [Christian] faith. 


Longulus et Sebastien. Des ydolatres à l'instance Le saint martir par faulz moyen. Emprisonnerent. Et puis sans ce Que le peuple aut congnoissance. Secretement contre raison Firent de nuit soubz leur puissance. Trenchier son chief en la prison. 

Longulus and Sebastianus, idolaters, treacherously imprisoned the holy martyr. And then without letting the people know, secretly and forcibly without due cause had his head cut off at night in prison.