City on both banks of the Somme River in north France; capital of Somme department, which comprises the present diocese, and of Picardy, which comprised the medieval diocese.
The Celtic Samarobriva was the capital of the Gallic Ambiani, in the Roman province of Belgica II c. 400. Its commercial, military, and industrial importance meant an early Christian evangelization, but neither dates nor data can be assigned to the two SS. firmin, traditionally the first apostles of Amiens. The first St. Firmin seems to have been a traveling missionary from Navarre who left traces in Pamplona, Agen, Clermont, angers, beauvais, and Amiens, where he is supposed to have been martyred c. 303; his relics may have been translated to Pamplona (1186) after Philip II Augustus added Amiens to the French realm in 1185. Amiens considers him the founder and first bishop of its church. There is also a tradition of the evangelization of Amiens from Rome, marked by the martyrdoms of SS. Fuscian, Victoricus, and Quentin.
St. martin of tours cut his cape to give half of it to a poor man; the site was marked by a chapel that became the Abbey of Saint-Martin-aux-Jumeaux (1073). No bishops are known between Eulogius (346) and Edibius (511). Until the 11th century Amiens, a prize for Normans (859, 881, 883, 891) and a strong-point in the war between Flanders and Normandy, kept within its Roman walls. Bishop Jesse (799–830, 833–834) was one of Charlemagne's missi. The bishop c. 1000 shared seigneurial rights with the count, who in the 12th century was his vassal. Episcopal holdings, shared with the chapter, were few outside the city, where the Abbeys of corbie (622) and saint-ricquier (625) held most of the land; in 1301 the bishop disposed of far fewer benefices than did the abbeys. St. Simon, count of Amiens (1072–77), became a monk at St. Claude in the Jura mountains and died in Rome (1082). peter the hermit, preacher of the First Crusade, was from Amiens. Bishop St. Godefroy (1104–15) supported church reform. When the cathedral was built (1220–69), Amiens was a town rich from the cloth trade.
Picardy was a center of Calvinism, combated by Bp. Geoffroy de la Marthonie (1577–1601). A seminary was founded in 1655. After the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685), many of the Huguenots fled to London and Edinburgh. Jansenism was opposed by Bps. François Faure (1653–87), Pierre Sabatier (1706–34), and François Gabriel d'Orléans de la Motte (1734–74). Only two clerics were executed during the French Revolution, when Amiens was a Constitutional see under rouen. The concordat of 1801 made Amiens, united with Beauvais and Noyon, suffragan to paris. In 1822 it became suffragan to Reims again. The major seminary was reorganized in 1805, the minor in 1828. Most of the 12 bishops of the 19th century were in transit to other sees. Pastoral problems differ in the many agricultural villages and in industrial centers.
The beautiful Gothic cathedral ranks with Reims and Chartres; built by the architect Robert de Luzarches, it has five monumental portals (three on the west façade and two at ends of the transept) and two towers 215 feet high. Its treasure includes a replica of a relic of the head of St. John the Baptist brought from Constantinople (1206). Former abbeys include the Benedictine Saint-Valery (613), Saint-Sauve in Montreuil (7th century), Saint-Josse-sur-Mer (793), Forestmontier (10th century), Saint-Fuscien (1105), and Saint-Vast in Moreuil (1109) for men; and Sainte-Austreberte in Montreuil (7th century), Bertaucourt (1095), and Saint-Michel in Doullens (12th century) for women; the Cistercian Le Gard, Cercamp, Valloire (all 1137), and Lieu-Dieu (1191) for men; and Villancourt (12th century), Épagne (1178), and the Paraclet (1219) for women; the Augustinian Saint-Acheul (1085) and Clerfay (1136) for men; and the Premonstratensian Saint-Jean (1115), Dommartin (1120), Séry (1127), Selincourt (1131), and Saint-André-au-Bois (12th century).
Bibliography: h. macqueron, Bibliographie du département de la Somme, 2 v. (Amiens 1904–07). a. de calonne, Histoire de la ville d'Amiens, 3 v. (Amiens 1899–1906). h. pelletier, Histoire religieuse de la Picardie (Abbeville 1961). f. i. darsy, Bénéfices de l'église d'Amiens, 2 v. (Amiens 1869–71). g. durand, Monographie de l'église Notre-Dame, cathédral d'Amiens, 3 v. (Amiens 1901–03). Cartulaire du chapitre de la cathédral d'Amiens, 2 v. (Amiens 1905–12). f. vercauteren, Étude sur les civitates de la Belgique seconde (Brussels 1934). h. p. eydoux, Réalités et énigmes de l'archéologie (2d ed. Paris 1964). m. godet, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclesiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912—) 2:1254–72. e. jarry, Catholicisme 1:466–469. g. bardy, ibid. 4:1318–19. Annuario Pontificio (1965) 29.
Amiens, mise of
J. A. Cannon