The illuminations of December 8 at Lyon,
or the "celebrates of lights"
Each year, December 8 at the evening, Lyon is light up and become the
"City of Light". It is one feast day for all the Lyoneses: they
illuminate their windows, balconies and terraces; the tradesmen compete
of imagination to decorate their windows; the districts put in scene
multiple street spectacles; and the town of Lyon offers as best
spectacle a large sound and light show on one of its rivers.
This tradition was born from one century and half. December 8, 1852, is
the inauguration day of the statue of the Virgin Mary, set up on the
hill of Fourvière. One important moment for all believing of the
city, because this event had been deferred due to a rising of the
Saône. It should have been held on September 8, feast day of the
Virgin Nativity, and birthday date of the vow of the aldermen of 1643.
However in this evening of December 8, 1852, whereas the Festival
prepares and that the notable Lyons Catholics propose to illuminate the
enontages of their houses like this is traditionally done for this
great events, a storm falls down on Lyon and threat once more the
ceremony. But fortunately the weather becomes again lenient. Then the
population which had so much awaited this demonstration illuminates
spontaneously its windows and goes down in the streets.
It will preserve this habit until our days. See also the history has
the end of this page.
from 1564 to 1643, the city is devastated
ten times by the plague.
March 12, 1643, the mayor and the Aldermen
put the Lyons city under the protection of the Virgin Mary so that she
save the interests of the city, in particular that she defends the
inhabitants against the plague: they promise to carry out, December 8
of each year, a pilgrimage at Fourvière and offer the quantity
of 7 pound of white wax in candles and torches for the divine
service... and an ECU of gold to the sun. And this to prepared the
virgin Mary to receive the city under its protection. Since then, the
plague never reappeared: one speaks about "the miraculous virgin of
Fourvière", and much families place her effigy on the enontage
or at the angle of their house.
Between 1832 and 1835, whereas the
cholera devastates enance, the municipal officials renew the public vow
to the virgin, and Lyon is saved.
In 1851, one decides the
construction of a new steeple, on three floors, surmounted of a new
statue of the virgin Mary in gilded bronze. The inauguration is
scheduled for September 8 of the following year, celebrates birth of
Marie. But a rising of the Saône invades the workshops, where the
metal of the statue is melt, and makes defer the ceremony to December
8, that become the celebrating of Immaculate Conception of Marie,
according to the definition which will be given by it in 1854.
December 8, 1852, after the blessing of
the statue by the Cardinal Of Bonald, a violent rain obliges to give
the illumination of the church and the procession the next Sunday. But,
at the falling night, the storm calms down. The people of Lyon
spontaneously decide to celebrate the event. A multitude of candles and
torches appear on the windows and the inhabitants go down in the
streets, a lampion in the hand. The city is transformed soon into an
immense scintillating tablecloth and, the top of her steeple, the
gilded Virgin is adorn with a majestic clearness. Symbolising the
triumph of the light on the darkness, as well as wanted its author, F
FABISCH, professor from the Art schools in Lyon, the Virgin projects on
the city, by reverberation, the rays of the raising sun. Since then,
the habit of the illuminations was established in Lyon and in the
neighbouring area. The inhabitants continue to go down in the streets
to admire the enchantment of the light and to be delighted together.
In 1870, the archbishop of Lyon
makes the vow to build, beside the old church of Fourvière, a
large basilica to contain the many pilgrims, if the Virgin Mary
preserves the city against the Prussian invasion: however, in spite of
the order that they had received to go on the city, the invaders stop
their offensive close to the city of Dijon.
In 1872, December 7, the first stone of
the basilica is posed; the building will not be devoted 24 years later,
in 1893. The illuminations from December 8 in Lyon, effects of this
antique collective memory, renew each year this environment of profane
and religious festival, the light against the night, the hope against
the moroseness, that will reinforce the end of year holidays, with gift
Photo of the 8 December at Lyon - photo illumination December 8 to
Lyon. - photo illumination at Lyon - photo palaces of the stock
market to Lyon - photo palaces of justice à Lyon - photo King
Louis 14 to Lyon – rue Edouard Herriot at Lyon – Town hall of Lyon -
photo of the rue de Brest at Lyon - Photo of the place des Terreaux at
Lyon - Photo of the church Saint-Nizier at Lyon - Photo of the place
Bellecour at Lyon - Photo of the Cathedral Saint-Jean at Lyon - Photo
of the centre of Lyon - Show sound and light at Lyon
To create it: June 01, 2004.
Last modification it: April 01, 2006.