Well time to visit this lovely place that dominates the skyline in Lyon.
Lillian: "The site was once a Roman forum and that is where the name comes from - an inversion of Vieux-Forum ... becomes Fourvière."
Audrey: "Oh! I thought perhaps it was because there are 4 towers ..."
Lillian: "But 'four' is an English word my dear. Though apparently a local nick-name for the Cathedral is 'the up-side-down elephant' because those 4 towers look like elephant legs sticking up in the air."
This photo was taken from the Saône River, one of the 4 towers is obscured and the older Chapelle de la Vierge is on the left with the egg shaped dome topped by a golden Virgin Mary - the statue on the Basilica is St Michael, slewing the dragon.
Entry to the Basilica is from the other side.
Over the 3 arches are the 4 winged beings that represent the 4 Evangelists -
|the winged man / angel for Matthew|
|the winged lion for Mark|
|the winged bull for Luke|
|and the Eagle for John|
There is another winged lion sitting sphinx-like & protecting the entry - but I think this lion represents Lyon itself.
Audrey: "The Basilique de Fourvière reminded me of Sacré-Cœur in Paris."
Lillian: "Yes, there are similarities. Both are of white stone and are on hills over-looking their cities, both cathedrals were built using private funds and both buildings were commenced in the 1870s following the Franco-Prussian war and the socialist Communes of Paris & Lyon. When the Prussians were threatening to invade Lyon the people promised to build a big church dedicated to Mary if Lyon was spared. But the Fourvière site and the Chapelle de la Vierge have previous history of being the place where the Lyonnaise offered thanks for surviving or escaping bad events. In 1638 it was a disease that was affecting the children, in 1643 Lyon escaped an outbreak of the plague, in 1832 they were spared an outbreak of cholera."
Audrey: "And there is a really big painting in the Basilica all about that."
|the "tableau d’Orsel" is huge|
Looking at some of the allegorical painting by (André Jacques) Victor Orsel. The Lion licking its wounds at Mary's feet represents Lyon, as does the lady in green - and Mary is protecting her with her blue cloak. On (our) right are protective Saints, to our left there is Death with scull-face & scythe, a Canut (silk-worker) looking sad because of all the social upheavals & bad times then Cholera with yellow head-dress holding a cup of poison - only an angel has whacked that with his sword ... very allegorical indeed!
So now let's look at some more of the interior of this Cathedral - and be prepared to be overwhelmed! Looking down the aisle towards the choir or apse ...
Looking at some of that decoration ...
and we should give some of the dates etc - building the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière was commenced in 1872 and it was consecrated on 16th June 1896.
It was designed by Pierre Bossan and is a mix of Romanesque and Byzantine styles.
Audrey: "I think I can see the Byzantine influence."
Lillian: "There are a lot of birds in the decoration. Plenty of Doves ...
but also ...
|Chicken with her babies (look at their little feet)|
|Pelican and babies|
Audrey: "Oooo yuk! But this cathedral is full of wings - not just on birds but on Angels too. And lots of the angels had twice as many wings as normal. Are you sure this isn't the Cathedral de FourWings?"
Lillian: "Oh Audrey! The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière has famous mosaics -
there are 6 large panels ...
and sorry about this being at a funny angle - our photo people were in a hurry - but we wanted to show this lovely interaction between Mary and her Child."
Audrey: "Perhaps that priest has frightened the little one and mum is having to reassure him. This Cathedral is very feminine and maternal isn't it?"
Lillian: "You could be right there, though Joan of Arc wasn't known for being particularly nurturing ..."
Audrey: "So much glittery gold in the mosaic - but let's look to the left of those long trumpets ...
such wonderful outfits!"
three cupolas which depict Mary united to the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit ...
|the Son - note more angels with 4 wings|
|Holy Spirit (I think - though there is a dragon / serpent at Mary's feet)|
Audrey: "Let's look down for a bit at the floor - also mosaic ...
Lillian: "And now that our necks have stopped aching, let's look at the windows - here is Saint Cecilia, patron saint of music ...
and from the 6 major windows in the Choir / Apse, they were designed by Georges Decôte - again representing aspects of The Virgin Mary ..."
Lillian: "Now we all got rather overwhelmed and confused by all that surface ornamentation and colour and glitter - and then we found ourselves in an area that was quite monochromatic. Not sure which part of the cathedral this was but it was beautiful."
Audrey: "And there was another mother hen with her prancing chicks ... "
Lillian: "Time to go outside and rest our eyes somewhat."
Audrey: "That's the outside of the Choir / Apse - and more wings!"
Lillian: "Non-realistic on the outside - the small ones are pelicans, the larger are doves."
Audrey: "It was a wonderful view."
Saône River can be glimpsed just beyond the closest trees - the Rhone is at the horizontal row of trees further on. And the patch of orange between the 2 heads is Place Bellecour.
Swinging to the left, we see the 2 rivers again with old Lyon and new Lyon beyond.
Some more details from the exterior - more pelicans
The Angels on the outside are armed - though they don't look particularly dangerous!
|A penny for your thoughts!|
In 1852 the bell tower of that Chapel was crowned by a statue made in golden bronze
Alongside the Chapelle de la Vierge is another older building - and yes - that is St Thomas of Canterbury aka Thomas Becket
he spent about 6 years in France.
And here we are looking up at the St Michael statue on the Basilica - with a bit of a contrast with one of the small towers that are part of the Chapelle de la Vierge.
Before we go and something we can't show you a photo of - but during our visit to the Basilique de Fourvière we were enchanted by Saori Yamaguchi practicing on the Grand Organ - preparing for a concert. There is something quite wonderful about a grand pipe organ being played well in a cathedral with fabulous acoustics.
And to end this long post - something very French from the exterior of the Basilique de Fourvière. A lovely Iris - with Fleur de Lis ...
Lillian: "Clearly showing how one inspired the other!"