“Lumiere” Festival of Lights Series
“Lumiere” Festival of Lights
It took 2000 years to build Lyon and 20 years to make it a modern capital, capable of competing with other major cities in France. In 1989, the city mayor Michel Noir, took a bold initiative by transforming one of Lyon’s most famous traditions – December 8 Illuminations. It was started in 1643, fearing a horrible plague, the aldermen of Lyon made a pledge to the Virgin Mary if she would save the city. The plague ended and, from then on, September 8th (Nativity of the Virgin) became an annual day of celebration in Lyon. That date was chosen in 1852, to bless and inaugurate a large gilded bronze statue of the Virgin Mary, 5.60 meters tall, to be placed on the dome of the new church tower dominating the city on the hills of Fourvière. The weather was dreadful despite the general good cheer. Bells rang and canons boomed. A terrible storm broke out forcing the crowds to seek shelter. The ceremony ended and the evening illuminations were cancelled. A few hours later, the wind and rain stopped, and the clouds disappeared. All over town,millions of candle lamps were placed on the window sills of peoples homes.
The celebration continued through the night and marked the beginning of annual illuminations on December 8th. Since then, the city of Lyon declared as the most Marian statues in the world. Inside the famous La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière of Lyon, housed several replicas of the Miraculous Virgin Mary in the world. Through the initiative of then Philippine Ambassador to France Jose A. Zaide Jr., he endorsed our own Virgen de la Naval of Manila to the administration of the Basilica. It was carved in Paete Laguna, dressed by Filipino designer, Froilan “Roy” Tayag Gonzalez of Paris Pierre Cardin, brought to Lyon in cooperation with the artist Manuel D. Baldemor, Tetta Agustin, Christian Bavarey and Association Aminities, Franco-Philippine, Rhone-Alpes. It was installed on December 5, 2010 The municipality of Lyon grew aware of the great possibilities of illumination and lighting design could bring to enhance the city monument. For more that 300 public buildings and sites benefits from artistic lighting installations in honour of the Virgin Mary. The four-day Fète des Lumiêres launched in 2002, attracts three million visitors to Lyon every year around December 8th.