The French State has owned the cathedral since the Revolution, a statute confirmed in the Law on the Separation of the Church and the State issued in 1905. As such, DRAC Hauts-de-France regularly ensures the ongoing conservation, restoration, safety and security of the building and its furniture. In collaboration with the Centre of National Monuments, Amiens Métropole and the diocese of the Somme, it also ensures that the cathedral is continually enhanced.
The word “cathedral” comes from “cathèdre” which means the seat of the bishop. It is therefore a special church as the seat of the bishop in charge of the diocese. Bishop Olivier Leborgne, ordained in 2014, is the 103th bishop of the diocese of Amiens, serving the cathedral. The bishop delegates the worship service to a priest called the rector. Amiens Cathedral is also a parish church with daily liturgy. The clergy is designated by the State as the controlling authority of the site.
The French Centre of National Monuments
The French Centre of National Monuments (Centre des Monuments Nationaux, CMN) is a public administrative body under the Ministry of Culture. Historically named the Caisse nationale des monuments historiques et des sites (CNMHS, meaning the National Commission on Museums and Historic Monuments and Sites), it maintains, restores, manages and coordinates activities and supervises the site openings of close to 100 national monuments belonging to the State.
At Amiens Cathedral, this commission is responsible for opening to visitors the tour circuit and the visits of the monument’s treasury. It also oversees the estate management of this state monument (use of premises, image copyrights, etc.).
City of Amiens and Amiens Métropole
The city and the metropolitan territory are the guardians of the jewel that is Amiens Cathedral. Successive teams of both authorities have always taken bold actions to protect this monument, reflecting their pride and deep concern about protecting the cathedral which plays such a major part in the identity and reputation of the city, the department and European history, beyond our borders.
Through its various missions, the Office de Tourisme et des Congrès d’Amiens Métropole contributes to the international profile of Amiens Cathedral.
The Direction de l’action culturelle et du patrimoine, Amien’s framework for action on cultural heritage, organises annual mediation actions, guided visits and workshops to increase awareness amongst all visitors - adults and children, locals and tourists - of the exceptional and universal value of Amiens Cathedral.
It also contributes to the conservation and management of this exceptional heritage via the supervision of the cathedral’s double listing as a World Heritage Site as well as their active participation in restoration projects. For example, in 1994, the city of Amiens signed an agreement establishing the financial partnership for the restoration of the western front of the monument, with the State and the Conseil Général de la Somme et la Région Picardie (the General Council of the Somme and the Picardie Region). Each authority agreed to contribute 305,000 euros a year, i.e. 915,000 euros, to the building works, as much as the share from the French Government.
Lastly, it oversees the lighting of the facade of Amiens Cathedral, the cathedral in colour refreshed by Chroma, which enables visitors to rediscover, every year, the original colours of the monument’s portals.
There’d be no cathedral without skilled labour! In 800 years, hundreds of men and women have successively ensured that Amiens Cathedral has kept standing!
During the medieval construction period, countless skilled workers (competing for the honour to work on this project) were hard at their task on site, day in, day out. Whether they be labourers, apprentices or project managers, every single contributor was essential to making the vision of the architect and the bishop a reality!
Masons, sculptors, glass makers, carpenters, roofers and electricians have continued this long tradition of professionals using their skills for the maintenance and conservation of Amiens Cathedral.
Scholarly societies and associations
Both enthusiasts and specialists contribute to increasing the knowledge and enhancing Amiens Cathedral.
The Société des Antiquaires de Picardie (society of antiquaries of Picardie), founded in 1836, is a local scholarly society based in the Musée de Picardie. It carries out research on all regional works of art and historical monuments created during the Antiquity and the Middles Ages. It keeps a close eye on them and selects a handful for active conservation efforts, sharing their knowledge and insights of this local heritage. As such, ever since it was created, this society has been contributing significantly to increasing in-depth knowledge about the history of Amiens Cathedral.
Created in 1952, the Société des Amis de la Cathédrale d’Amiens (Friends of Amiens Cathedral Society) aims to enhance the cathedral, assist with worship services and extending its cultural influence. It helps welcome visitors inside the building, organises guided tours to discover the stalls and holds cultural events such as concerts or Cathedral Nights. It also ensures an annual restoration of some of the cathedral’s works of art and furniture.
The University of Picardie Jules Verne (UPJV), has 50 years of experience in guiding young Picardians to higher education, from bachelors to PhDs. Amiens, a student city, is home to over 30,000 students and almost 1,000 teachers/researchers.
In a region seeped in history, UPJV research projects cover the past as well as the present and the future, to further understand the challenges of contemporary societies. As creativity and innovation incubators, laboratories such as the MIS have been developing a digitisation campaign of Amiens Cathedral over the last 10 years, with the intention to increase the understanding of the monument and share these insights with the youth.
Men and women
So much more than a cathedral! Amiens Cathedral continues to live with the men and women who care for it. Be they laypersons, locals, tourists, of any age and culture, they all share the same wonder of the cathedral’s spiritual, historical or aesthetic significance across the centuries.
These men and women, with their expertise and/or enthusiasm, have kept the heart of the cathedral beating for the last 800 years!