March 12

Notre Dame de Fourvière, Lyon, Rhône, France

On Fourvière hill above Lyon, a chapel was built around 1180, dedicated to St. Thomas à Becket, recently martyred there, and to Our Lady. On April 29, 1552, Huguenots destroyed the chapel and its Black Virgin statue. The Catholics of Lyon replaced both soon afterwards. (Image of the Black Virgin, usually vested, left, posted by Mme Dulac to "Lyon, Fourvière (69-Rhône)," lieuxsacres.canalblog.com, March 14, 2007). During an outbreak of black plague, on March 12, 1643, city officials made a vow to the Virgin to erect two statues in her honor and on September 8, feast of her birth, to make a pilgrimage to her shrine to hear mass and donate seven pounds of candles and a gold écu. The epidemic which continued to ravage France ended in Lyon that year, and pilgrims began flocking to Fourvière. A statue representing Our Lady of Good Counsel became a second focus of devotion. The September 8 pilgrimage and offering still takes place. In 1851, church leaders decided to replace the chapel's dilapidated bell tower with a new one, topped with a statue of the Virgin overlooking the city. Local sculptor Joseph Fabish, who later made the Virgin's statue at Lourdes, created the 18' gilt bronze image. Because his workshop flooded, installation was postponed from September 8 to December 8, feast of the Immaculate Conception. When stormy weather that night prevented fireworks, devout citizens put lights in all their windows in the Virgin's honor. In memory of that event, Lyon celebrates a Festival of Lights on December 8. In 1870, citizens turned again to Our Lady for help, against an imminent Prussian invasion. When their prayers were answered, they decided to build a basilica on the holy hill. Building started in 1872 and finished in 1884, but the lavish mosaic decoration took another 80 years to complete. Its dedication anniversary is celebrated annually on the Saturday after the second Sunday of Easter. In the Basilica's crypt are images of the Virgin representing the various ethnic groups of the area. The Portuguese statue of Our Lady of Fatima is particularly venerated. Some sources: 
bulletBasilica's site, www.fourviere.org
bullet"Marist Places - Lyon Fourvière," The Marist Brothers - FMS, www.champagnat.org
bulletDiocesan site, "Dédicace de la basilique de Fourvière," Diocèse de Lyon, lyon.catholique.fr
bullet"Chapelles de Notre Dame de Fourvière Lyon 5ème," Guide Touristique, www.gralon.net
bullet"Le renouvellement du Voeu des échevins de 1643," www.pointsdactu.org, Sept. 5, 2006
bulletLyon's site, "8 décembre - Fête des Lumières," www.lyon.fr/vdl/sections/fr/tourisme/fete_lumieres
bulletfr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilique_Notre-Dame_de_Fourvi%C3%A8re

Also commemorated this date:

bulletLydda Icon of the Mother of God "Not Made by Hands." Russian Orthodox commemoration (February 25 Julian) of image said to have appeared miraculously on a column of a church built by the apostles Peter and John in Lod, Central, Israel.
bulletOur Lady of Fatima, Ban Pong Vang, Louangphrabang, Laos. Parish church consecrated March 12, 2005.
bulletMadonna della Fontana, Ascona, Ticino, Switzerland. First stone of church placed March 12, 1617. Consecrated June 7, 1677.
 

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly