This unforeseen event became a tradition and was confirmed in 1854 by Pope Pius IX’s proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in the papal bull. Ineffabilis Deus.
Even today, the people of Lyon continue to put candles on their windowsills every year, as attested by Philomène, 13 years old, the eldest of four siblings: “For me, December 8 is like the true beginning of Advent. We put candles in our windows, we testify that we are Christians. It is a tribute to Mary, and putting a candle in the window can be a testimony to our neighbors.
An evangelization center at the Fourvière basilica
The diocese of Lyon is heavily involved in the celebrations. The seminarians of the diocese are invited to become “Missionaries of the 8”.
“They are present on the Fourvière esplanade under a tent. They offer visitors the opportunity to meet them and discuss what motivates them,” explains Guillemain.
Likewise, religious communities and many volunteers come to meet the public, testifying to the history of Marian devotion in the city.
“We like to remind people of the historical significance of the festival. There are many initiatives at the Notre-Dame de Fourvière basilica, it is very lively; we can find choirs, prayer vigils, reading times.
From December 1, the giant illuminated letters “Merci Marie” (“Thank you, Marie”) are illuminated on Fourvière hill. This symbol, visible from afar, remains lit at night throughout the month.
Then on December 8, in the crypt of the basilica, which houses statues of Mary from all over the world – Brazil, China, Philippines, Lebanon, Mexico, Poland, India, Algeria, Portugal – communities from each of these countries come to pray. . pray around their “Lady”, bringing flowers and often in traditional costume.
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Many also come to admire the famous “Lyonnais crèche” which grows every year. In addition to the classical figures, the scene includes great Christians from Lyon such as Saint Blandine, Saint Pothin, Saint Iréné, Saint Jean-Marie Vianney, Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, Pauline Jaricot, Jeanne Garnier, etc.
Young people also play a special role on December 8. They take part in a large procession up the hill, which ends with a mass at 8 p.m.
“Last year, there were almost 2,000, and the basilica and the crypts were full,” Guillemain explained. The day’s festivities end with a “Mass for the Lyonnais” at 10 p.m.
Everyone needs hope
Two new initiatives should be noted this year: Faced with the conflicts ravaging the world, particularly in the Holy Land and Ukraine, a “luminous dove of peace” will be formed from candles lit on the esplanade.