The Festival of Lights
: Fête des lumières
) in Lyon
expresses gratitude toward Mary, mother of Jesus
on December 8 of each year. This uniquely Lyonnaise tradition dictates that every house place candles along the outsides of all the windows to produce a spectacular effect throughout the streets. The festival, which includes other activities based on light, usually lasts 4 days, with the peak of activity occurring on the 8th. The two main focal points of activity are typically the Basilica of Fourvière
which is lit up in different colours, and the Place des Terreaux, which hosts a different light show each year.
Spared from plague
The origins of the festival date to 1643 when Lyon was struck by plague
. The municipal councillors (échevins
) promised to pay tribute to Mary if the town was spared. Ever since, a solemn procession makes its way to the Basilica of Fourvière on this day to light candles and give offerings in the name of Mary. The event thus commemorates the day Lyon was consecrated to the Virgin Mary.
Inauguration of a statue
In 1852, it became a popular festival when a statue of the Virgin Mary was erected next to the Basilica, overlooking the city. Now a focal point of the festival, the statue was created by the renowned sculptor Fabisch
and was sponsored by several notable Lyonnais Catholics. It was then accepted by Maurice Cardinal de... Read More