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Virgin Mary Chapel in Fourvière

The Fourvière hill is a strategic site, secularly well known for its place with a large and dominant view around. It’s also a place with lot of history.


Reflected, first, the Romans installation, then this of the first Christians drive by holy Pothin, then by personalities, after, looking for country and large panorama upon Lyon’s town and further upon the Alpes.



First, a simple sanctuary dedicated to Mary would be built in the middle of 12th century attached to the Canon of Saint John Cathedral. The cult of Thomas Becket is added to this one of Mary.

During all the Middle Age, it is a modest chapel.

  • In 1476, Louis XI, king of France, at his pilgrim return from le Puy (Haute-Loire), on the Way to Compostelle, stops at Fourvière. On his request, the Virgin Mary cult and of Thomas Becket will grow up.

  • XVIIth century, the sanctuary became a pilgrim place


Fourvière place really make history of Lyon with some famous wishes:

  • I638: wish of the General Aumone, concerning the orphans, educated in hospital diseaded with scurvy. A pilgrim to the Fourvière chapel is decided to obtain their healing. The children will heal.

  • I638: Louis XIII, king of France, dedicate the kingdom to the Virgin Mary.

  • I643: wish of the Canons of Lyon, after a plague epidemic threatening everybody in Lyon, with the promise to commemorate each 8th of September doing a pilgrim to the Virgin Mary and to give 7 pounds of candle wax and a golden coin écu.

  • XVIIIth century, a well known and busy sanctuary


Fourvière became a more and more busy pilgrim. The chapel is to small and it is decided to enlarge it. The French Revolution in 1789 eclipses the sanctuary life. The chapel will be closed to the cult in 18O1.

  • In 18O4, Cardinal Fesch asks to the pope Pie VII, moving through Lyon, to open anew solemnly the sanctuary to the cult and for the pilgrim.

  • Au XIXème siècle, the religious life became more and more intensive.

  • En 1852, 8th of December, a new statue, work of Fabisch sculptor, of the Virgin Mary is installed to the top of the chapel. De grandes festivités sont prévues et continuent aujourd’hui à faire une des gloires de Lyon.

  • In 1870, breaks war against Prussia. Lot of pilgrims implores the Virgin Mary to preserve the town. A larger church will be built in gage; after some discussions, it will decided to build a new big basilica near the chapel, by the Cardinal Coullié. It was erected in basilica by the pope Leon XIII in 1897.

Fourvière and Pauline Jaricot

Mr. and Mrs. Jaricot met themselves during a Cross way to the Fourvière Chapel. Pauline, with her parents, brothers and sisters, as the Lyon inhabitants, goes up often to the Fourvière hill. The devotion to the Virgin Mary has a real importance, in this time.

Then, after her conversion, Pauline pronounced her vows of perpetual virginity in the chapel, during the Christmas night in 1816.

En 1830, during the Canut Rebellion (an uprising among silk workers in Lyon), Pauline will pass three nights and three days in prayers, in front of the altar of the Virgin Mary in the Fourvière Chapel.


Concerned with the reconciliation among the Christians, Pauline Jaricot established a weekly prayer, on Saturday, in the Saint Thomas of Canterbury Chapel.

A commemorative plate is placed in the Fourvière chapel, as a tribute to Pauline Jaricot.

Today – The Sanctuary life

The Fourvière hill is became a high spiritual et touristic place. The site is very famous and renowned around the world ; by its situation upon the Lyon town, near the Alpes and the Mont-Blanc ; and also by the notorious illuminations on 8th December that attract many French and foreign tourists.

The Sanctuary is open all the day; several masses are celebrated each day; priests are available for the visitors or the pilgrims and for reconciliation sacrament or all kind of demands; a Holy Rosary is meditated each day in the Virgin Mary chapel.


Volunteers are on the place for information, visits, and welcome pilgrims alone or in groups.



September 8 is held with solemnity the traditional feast of the wish of the Aldermen (epidemic of the plague contained in 1643) and the blessing of the city of Lyon, by the Cardinal.

The 8th December, the Feast of the Immaculate Conceptions, is in Lyon, the famous religious feast, witness of fervor.

A torchlight procession climbs the hill, « the hill who prays » from the square of the cathedral Saint Jean to the top of the hill, through the famous climb of Chazeaux, so dear to Pauline.

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