Lyon, France: Basilica of Our Lady of Fourviere
Depending upon whom you ask, Lyon is either the second or third largest city in France (Marseilles is the other contender). What is without dispute, however, is the fact that Christianity took root in Lyon very early in the second Century. In fact, the Roman Emporer Marcus Aurelius ordered the persecution of these early Christians in 177 A.D. A letter from these persecuted Christians has survived and is a testament to their faith.
These early Christians came from Smyrna (modern-day Turkey) and quoted works of the Apostles, so there were obviously very close to the original Apostles themselves. Several of them became saints including Saint Irenaeus, who was Bishop of Lyon until his death in 202 A.D.
About the Basilica of Our Lady of Fourviere:
Perched on a hill overlooking the city that originally housed a Roman temple, the view both from below the town and from the Basilica is magnificent, as you can see from the photo on the right. The building itself is relatively new by European standards (1870’s) and some say it lacks the splendor of the earlier churches in France, but contains a magnificent museum well worth the visit. Thousands of pilgrims come here to pray each year. There is a funicular that will carry you to the top.
There several Masses each day as well as Confessions and recitation of the Rosary.
Three main Feast Days of Our Lady are of great importance: August 15 (the Assumption), September 8 (Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary) and December 8 (the Immaculate Conception).
December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, is a special day of celebration here. On this day the faithful put candles in their windows and make the annual pilgrimage up the hill to the Basilica by candlelight and flashlight, called the Fête des Lumières (festival of lights).
Traveling to Lyon:
Lyon is about 290 miles south of Paris. If you are traveling by train, the high-speed TGV train covers the distance from Paris in about 2 hours (be aware that there are four train stations in Paris and three train stations in Lyon). Gare de la Part-Dieu is the main station serving both the high-speed TGV trains as well as most inter-regional trains. Lyon-Saint-Paul is a terminus for local trains serving the western suburbs of the city.
There is also an airport in Lyon, with most flights originating within Europe.
Address: 8 Place de Fourvière, 69005 Lyon, France
GPS coordinates: 45° 45′ 44.2548” N, 4° 49′ 21.4536” E
Click here for official website of the Basilica of Our Lady of Fourviere.
Click here for an interesting look at the history of Our Lady of Fourviere.