Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, Lyon, France

The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière is a minor basilica in Lyon. It was built with private funds between 1872 and 1884 in a dominant position overlooking the city. The site it occupies was once the Roman forum of Trajan, thus its name. The basilica is one of the most visible landmarks in the city, and one of the symbols of the city of Lyon. It gives Lyon its status of “Marian city”. Around two million tourists are welcomed to the basilica each year. The basilica complex includes not only the building, the Saint-Thomas chapel and the statue, but also the panoramic esplanade, the Rosary garden and the archbishopric of Lyon.

On this site is instituted in the middle of the Middle Ages a worship to Saint Thomas of Canterbury then, quickly, to the Virgin. This double worship materializes with the construction of a place of devotion, the Saint-Thomas chapel. Following a vow made in 1642 to ward off an epidemic of plague from Lyon, an annual pilgrimage was formed. In the 19th century, at the initiative of Cardinal de Bonald, a golden statue of Mary is erected on the raised and reinforced bell tower of the chapel and the proposal to build a basilica is accepted, both to welcome more and more visitors and in thanks for the protection of Lyon during the Franco-German war of 1870. The basilica gets to the end of the XX century formal recognition of its status as monument Lyon.

In the middle of the XIX century, pilgrims from more and more of Fourviere, the expansion project of the sanctuary takes shape. To purchase the necessary land, M Bonald created in 1850 the Commission Fourvière. Its first goal is not the construction of a new building, but on the contrary the sanctuary of the hill in its then state. The objectives entrusted to it (letter from the archbishop to the clergy, January 10, 1853) are to free the chapel from “its mediocre environment”, to “prevent by practical means from raising new ones. constructions on the mountain of Fourvière, to stop those which are in the course of execution and to modify those which are completed “.

In the 12th century, Lugdunum becomes Lyon and realizes that the cult to the Virgin Mary takes a big importance in the Christian devotion. In 1168, Olivier de Chavannes, Dean of the cathedral chapter, oversaw building of the first chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary, built on the hill of Fourvière. A second chapel was dedicated to Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, an English martyr who stayed in France during his exile.

In 1562, the chapels were destroyed because the city was captured by the Protestant armies of the Baron des Adrets. Apart from two capitals there is nothing left of the medieval sanctuary. The entire edifice was constructed again at the end of the 16th century. At this time Lyon had entered its second Golden Age, ushering economic prosperity. The chapels were of the utmost importance in Lyon’s religious life and soon extension works were necessary.

In 1623: Fourvière is so popular that more than 25 masses are celebrated every day. When a serious scurvy epidemic affected the city’s children, nothing could stop the disease. The hospital administrators decided to walk in a procession to Fourvière. The disease decreased, disappeared, and never came back to Lyon again.

In 1643 when Black Death, also known as the Great Plague, raged in Europe, Lyon was threatened by this curse. The notables decided to place the city under the protection of Mary. So, on the 8th September 1643, day of the nativity of the Virgin Mary, the Provost of the Merchants (equivalent of our mayor) and his four Aldermen (deputy mayors) followed by a crowd of inhabitants of Lyon walk in procession to the hill of Fourvière.

In the Chapel of the Virgin they made the vow to go up every 8th September to listen to the mass and to offer the archbishop seven pounds of wax and candles and a gold crown if their wishes were fulfilled. The city was spared so the tradition is carried on even today, displaying affection from the people of Lyon to the Virgin Mary who protects their city.

The Aldermen’s vow: a stained-glass window depicting The Aldermen’s vow, made by Lucien Bégule in 1882 is visible in the Chapel of the Virgin.

Cholera affected the areas around Lyon and threatened the city: the archbishop recommended public prayers. Once again Lyon was spared from a curse and the people of Lyon thanked the Virgin Mary by asking the painter Victor Orsel to make a huge painting. Today it can be seen in the back of the basilica. It is an allegory of the defeat of this epidemic. It was begun in 1833 by the Lyonese painter Victor Orsel and finished by his student after his death. It is 6.75 meters high and 5 meters wide.

In the middle of the 19th century, the people of Lyon inaugurated the golden Statue of the Virgin Mary. These celebrations were the origin of a festival which now brings together more than two million people each year.

In 1848, the chapel’s old bell tower lost its turret, called “the needle”. The architect Duboys designed the bell tower’s reconstruction. However, his design wasn’t much appreciated. The decision was made to put a statue of the Virgin on top of the new bell tower. Joseph-Hugues Fabisch won the competition and made the Virgin statue in golden bronze. It is 5.60 meters high (18 ft). This huge statue should have been erected on the 8th of September 1852 but a rise of the Saone River resulted in flooding of the foundry workshop, so the inauguration was postponed. Eventually the golden statue of the Virgin was inaugurated on the 8th of December.

Huge celebrations were planned, but the fireworks were cancelled due to bad weather. When the bad weather lifted, the inhabitants of Lyon spontaneously lit up the city by placing lights on their window-sills. Two years later, this improvised festival took on a life of its own when the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was proclaimed. Today, a large procession takes place every December 8th, from Saint Jean to Fourvière. At dusk, Catholics light up their windows with candles. For several years the city of Lyon has organised the “Festival of Lights” which brings together two million people in Lyon for four days of festivities.

The golden Virgin weighs more than 3 tons. The hands of the Virgin have been overproportioned so they can be seen from the bottom of the hill.

In 1870, the Prussians were invading France. So, a hundred ladies met the archbishop, his Eminence Ginoulhiac and made a vow, in Our Lady of Fourviere, praying to free the country and to protect Lyon. The archbishop promised the construction of a new sanctuary if the city was spared. The vow was fulfilled, the Prussians were arrested in Nuits-Saint-Georges and the Francfort treaty was signed on the 1st of March 1871. The first stone of the votive church Our Lady of Fourviere was laid in 1872. Even today, a great procession which goes from Saint Jean to Fourvière takes place every December 8th and, at nightfall, Catholics illuminate their windows with candlesticks. For several years, the city of Lyon organized at this time the “Festival of Lights”, which brings together 2 million people in Lyon for four days.

The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière was built between 1872 and 1884 to thank the Virgin Mary for having spared the city from invasion during the Franco-Prussian war. It has become one of the major symbols of Lyon, in part thanks to its dominant location on a hill overlooking the city. It is one testament of the great influence that Christianity has had on the city over the centuries.

Since the day of the lay of the first stone in 1870 and the consecration of the basilica in 1897 Notre-Dame de Fourvière has become a major sanctuay dedicated to Mary in Lyon.

Under the direction of the Fourviere committee, the hill of Fourviere is turned into a huge building site for nearly a century. Pierre Bossan is appointed as architect, assisted by Louis Sainte-Marie Perrin. Pierre Bossan’s death in 1888 will not stop the works and Antoine Sainte-Marie Perrin’s son will carry on the work of the two men in 1917 after his father’s death. Meanwhile the church is consecrated by his Eminence Coullié on the 16th of June 1896.The following year the Pope Léon 13th erected it as a basilica.

After 25 years of work, the festivities of consecration of the basilica will spread over 3 days in 1896, from Monday, June 15 to Thursday, June 18.

The coronation of the Virgin by Millefaut takes place on the day of the closure of the international marian Congress organized in Lyon on the 8th of September 1900. The crown made by the goldsmith Armand-Caillat is not put directly on the Virgin’s head. It is held by two winged angels who seem to come down from heaven.

It is made of gold, it weighs more than 4 kg (over 8.8 lb) and is enriched with 1791 precious stones and pearls given by the Lyonese families as a sign of devotion to the Virgin Mary, protector of the city. Nowadays only the facsimile made when the Germans were arriving in 1940 can be seen. The genuine crown, stolen in May 2017, is still searched.


The Façade
The basilica was designed by the Lyonnais architect Pierre Bossan. Its façade of the basilica is rich in symbolism and ornamentation integrating elements from both Romanesque and Byzantine architecture. The basilica was an object of much criticism during its construction, with some labelling it “the upside-down elephant.” See if you can understand why!

The towers
The four towers of the basilica represent the four cardinal values – fortitude, justice, prudence and temperance. Their particularity lies in their octagonal shape and their decoration with stylized floral engravings.

The most visible feature of the Fourvière basilica is that it has four corner towers, two on the facade and two to the right of the beginning of the choir. These towers, forty-eight meters high (four more than those of the primatial), are slightly flared at their top. This architectural research by Pierre Bossan was widely commented on by his contemporaries. The admirers of this architecture have researched its origin (see paragraph below); as for its contemptors, they mock “the overturned elephant”. On the other hand, their octagonal shape makes them less resistant to the vibrations generated by the ringing of bells; finally, the sacristiesbuilt at the foot of these towers are notoriously insufficient in the face of the enormous needs of such a pilgrimage center.

The towers are named according to the four cardinal virtues: on the western facade, the northwest tower represents Force, the southwest tower justice; on the east side which looks at Lyon, the north tower represents Prudence, and the south tower, Temperance.

The architectural inspiration that Bossan might have followed for the design of these towers is still debated today. Paul Abadie, designer of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Montmartre, declares about them that “these Arab towers are not there in their place”. Architectural criticism has traditionally seen in the towers of Fourvière a Sicilian inspiration, drawn from Arab-Norman architecture, which Bossan discovered during his stay in Palermo and the rest of the island between 1848 and 1850. In particular, Bossan would have been inspired by the cathedral of Palermo, that of Cefalù, and, even more, of the palatine chapel ofNorman palace. This assertion, launched in 1870, finds an echo, for example, in the writings of André Hallays, who wrote in 1900 about Fourvière: “It is Palermo architecture”.

Nevertheless, by the end of the XIX century, this relationship is called into doubt; Lucien Bégule, for example, who has visited Sicily twice, sees only a vague resemblance between the porch of the Lyon building and the side portal of the Palermo cathedral. For Philippe Dufieux, specialist in the architecture of Bossan, the “Sicilian” character of the basilica of Fourvière is questionable, or at least not unique. But he is astonished that no critic has made the connection, much more relevant in his opinion, between the work of Bossan and the Annunziata dei Catalani church in Messina, especially with regard to the apse.

Anyway, according to Dufieux, the first architectural inspiration would be much more orientalist than Sicilian. He takes as proof the systematic use of the arch in third point. From his point of view, we should rather compare, from an architectural point of view, the towers of Fourvière to the Muslim minarets.; in particular, he cites as a potential source of inspiration the Ketchaoua mosque in Algiers, which at that time had been consecrated as a building of Catholic worship, under the name of “Saint-Philippe cathedral”.

In two of the crosses at the top of the towers of the Basilica there are FM transmitters operated by TDF and Towercast.

The statue of Saint Michael
The apse is crowned with a statue of Saint Michael sculpted by Paul-Émile Millefaut (1848-1907). The latter estimates the estimate between twelve and fourteen thousand francs, but works on the plaster model without any advance. It seems that the different models, made on several different scales, all passed to La Ciotat, which shows that Bossan was strongly involved in the appearance of the statue which would crown his work. The final statue is produced by the Gayet-Gauthier workshops, which also cast the Statue of Liberty.

In the iconography imagined by Bossan, Michel dominated the other archangels by his role in the struggle between Good and Evil. In addition, the figure of the archangel had acquired during the XIX century a political significance, especially in the legitimist circles, to the point that Henri d’Artois would have liked to subscribe to the construction of this statue. This statue has an exact replica located in the bell tower of the Saint-Michel church of Saint-Michel-Mont-Mercure; initially manufactured for the Universal Exhibition of 1889, it was bought back in 1897 at a price of 4,400 francs (against 34,000 for that of Fourvière) and installed at the top of the.

The representation of the archangel as “figure Marian” is not an invention of Pierre Bossan but a recovery mystical visions of Maria de Agreda, Spanish religious of the XVII century. She received visions which forged in her a “maximum Mariology” which was not well received in the Catholic theological canon, but which Bossan approves. In these visions, Mary is for example assimilated to the divine “Wisdom” described in chapter 8 of the Book of Proverbs as well as in chapter 24 of Sirach. Bossan claims that he was not inspired by anyone for his iconographic theology, but the presence of the complete works of María de Ágreda suggests the opposite. On the other hand, it is quite possible that the writings of the Spanish nun are not the only sources of inspiration for the architect, who seems to rely, among others, on Abbé Martigny and his Dictionary of Christian antiquities, Nicolas Henri de Grimouard and his Manual of Christian Art, etc..

In 2013, the repairs carried out on the statue revealed at an unknown date, it had been the target of a shot, which pierced his left arm.

The Gallery of Caryatid Angels
Here in this upper gallery the columns take the form of caryatids, or sculpted angels. Swords in hand, these deities reinforce the defensive aspect of the basilica, as if a veritable fortress.

The Lion
This winged lion statue guards the entrance to the crypt, which is dedicated to St. Joseph. In addition to being an allegorical figure of the city of Lyon, the lion is a common emblem of the Jewish tribe of Judah, of which St. Joseph is a descendant.

The western facade
The western facade is framed by the two towers of Force (to the north, symbolized by the representation of Jacob’s struggle with the angel) and of Justice (to the south, and on which it is represented by the judgment of Solomon). The ornamentation of the frieze and the base of the towers contrasts strongly with the nudity of the other walls. This is only partially sought; the towers should, according to the watercolors painted by Frédéric Giniez, have been adorned with chiseled horizontal bracelets at regular distances.

The high church is preceded by a porch about ten meters deep, surmounted by the frieze under which a narrow corridor is arranged. The pediment supports are sculpted as caryatid angels by Millefaut between 1892 and 1894. To avoid the deformation of the figures of the pediment because of the perspective, it has been raised, which has resulted in an increase in weight; the very heavy weight of the upper part prompted the carrying out of crushing tests, which proved to be beneficial. A change of material was recommended as a consequence and recommendation was made to Millefaut to only carry out minimum material removal. The frieze itself represents the vow of the Aldermen of 1643, and the notables of Lyon kneeling in front of theMadonna and Child who occupies the center of the composition, surmounted by three angels.


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Lower church
The main characteristic of the basilica is to include two superimposed churches, the lower one being improperly called “crypt” (which it is not, being lit by glass roofs). The two churches are accessible by the square, one going down, the other going up; they are also connected by a monumental double flight staircase, opening onto the south side of the naves, and fully occupying the second upper and lower bays. The middle level, corresponding to the landing of the staircase, is on the same level with the square and the old chapel.

In Bossan’s mind, the entire Fourvière building is symbolic. Thus, the lower church, of which many of his friends did not see the usefulness, was to be for the architect the building dedicated to Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus Christ. He sees in this dichotomy of buildings a necessary path for the pilgrim, who goes from a relative darkness and a fairly low church to the light and the wide spaces of the high church. In this catechetical journey, Joseph represents both the hidden face of the Holy Family, the physical support of his wife and of the infant Jesus, but also tradition and the Old Testament.

In the visitor’s journey, the Porte des Lions is the natural entrance desired by Pierre Bossan. The lions that should have supported the columns, inspired by those of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Embrun, were not produced, but their design can be found in the notes of the two architects. Other unfinished projects were planned for the vestibule: circular porch housing a statue of the Virgin, double door of Nazareth (for men) and Bethlehem (for women) opening onto the lower church, Pharaoh’s door taking up the story of Joseph from Genesis.

The iconography of the entire lower church expresses this idea of Joseph’s discreet participation in the life of Mary and Jesus. Thus, a large statue of Joseph carrying the Child is sculpted, despite the opposition of Joannès Blanchon. The planned altars (not made) were to retrace the history of the Holy Family: marriage, worship of the shepherds, purification of the Virgin, flight into Egypt, family life in Nazareth, firsts words of Jesus in the Temple. The inscriptions on the vaults of the dome show the qualifiers given by the Church to Joseph:Filius David, vir justus, custos Domini, columen Mundi, Virginis sponsus, minister Salutis, certa spes vitae.

These inscriptions overlook the eight Beatitudes, represented by eight angels carved in the round, suggesting that Joseph exercised the corresponding virtues. Under the altar of the apse, is sculpted by Millefaut a death of Joseph, in which the husband of Mary is represented under the features of young Pierre Bossan, and where his adopted son Jesus weeps, very rare representation. Ironically, it is in this same low church and in front of this statue that the funeral service of the architect of Fourvière takes place, by special authorization of the archbishop.

As a whole, the crypt is an unfinished monument. Despite a learned composition, the play of colors between the light sparingly given by the stained-glass windows, the mosaics dominated by blue and gold, the Latin epigraphy revealing a good biblical knowledge, a rich statuary on which thirty-four artists have worked simultaneously, the vestibule and the apse are unfinished, particularly the latter, the shell of which was perfectly done, but almost immediately left almost in the rough, the builders being in a hurry to move on to the main church.

The Crypt of St. Joseph
The basilica is actually made up of two churches – the main church on top and the crypt down underground. The crypt is dedicated to St. Joseph, the husband of the Virgin Mary, as the architect Bossan believed that pilgrims had to reach Mary through Joseph, passing from the darkness of the crypt into the light of the main church.

The crypt is more than just the foundation of the upper church – it is also a church in its own right, with its own altar. The choir is covered in elaborate mosaics with statues of angels celebrating the virtues of St. Joseph.

The Virgins of the Chapels
The entire crypt is lined with chapels such as this one, which are dedicated to a version of the Virgin Mary from different pilgrimage sites. These include Portugal, Poland, Hungary, India, the Philippines, Lebanon, Guadeloupe and China, among others.

The Ex-votos
The walls are covered with marble plaques known as “ex-votos.” These are offerings to give thanks to a saint for having fulfilled a special request, such as healing a sick loved one. Ex-votos are a common feature of pilgrimage sites.

Higher church

The Central Nave
The central nave of the basilica is richly decorated with a variety of ornaments and gilded features, and most particularly mosaics which cover the church from floor to ceiling. The architect Bossan drew inspiration from the mosaics that lined the churches he visited during his stays in Sicily.

The Cupolas
The three cupolas above represent the links between the Virgin Mary and the three members of the Holy Trinity, as she is the daughter of the Father, the spouse of the Holy Spirit and the mother of Christ.

The Floor
The floor is meticulously decorated with mosaics using different types of marble and hard stone. They form geometric and floral patterns which become even more extravagant as one moves toward the choir.

The mosaics date from the end of the 19 and the beginning of the 20 century. They relate the story of the Virgin, on the right in the history of France, on the left in the history of the Church.

Mosaic of the Battle of Lepanto
This mosaic depicts the 1571 Battle of Lepanto, during which Pope Pius V implored the intercession of the Virgin Mary to bring victory to the Christian sailors against the Turkish fleet of Selim II.

Joan of Arc’s Triumphant Arrival in Orleans
This mosaic focuses on the triumphant arrival of Joan of Arc in Orleans, but the five key moments of her life are also featured – the voices, the victory at Patay, the coronation in Reims, the capture and the burning at the stake.

The most controversial iconographic element of the basilica is the set of so-called “heresies” mosaics, surrounding the main altar of the high church. They are eleven in number, nine of them symbolizing historical “heretical” currents (Arianism, Macedonianism, Nestorianism, Monophysism, Iconoclasm, Lutheranism, Manichaeism, Jansenism and Naturalism); the last two, the hydra and the serpent, representing the set of heresies. The choice that was made, bringing together various currents that arose in the Church between 325 and 1870, is partial and voluntary. The iconography, on the other hand, is exclusively drawn from a work reissued in 1855 by the Benedictine Jean-Baptiste-François Pitra, attributed to Méliton de Sardes, but more probably medieval.

In 2005, during the interreligious meeting organized in Lyon by the Community of Sant’Egidio, a common gesture was made by the various Christian Churches present in Fourvière. Cardinal Philippe Barbarin deplores on this occasion the classification of the basilica, which prevents the removal of some of the mosaics, but publicly asks forgiveness from the Protestant representatives present for the representation of Luther among the heresies; a marble plaque bearing a co-written declaration expressing the will of the Churches to “overcome their painful history” is inaugurated in return.

The Choir
All the decorations in the basilica are dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and the symbolism only increases the closer you get to the heart of the church: the choral gallery, or choir. This area is considered holy, and the decorations used here reflect the Immaculate Conception, or Mary’s divine motherhood.

Mosaic: The Donation from Louis XIII
Here, King Louis XIII of France and his wife, Anne of Austria, offer a crown, symbolizing France, to the Virgin Mary so that she may give them an heir to the throne. This heir would become the future King Louis XIV.

The Virgin Mary
The statue is the focal point of the altar. Mary watches over the congregation, holding the baby Jesus whose fingers are raised in blessing. Sculpted in Carrara marble, the statue is covered with a veil as a sign of purity.

The Choir Vault
The ribs and shell of the choir vault are richly decorated in jewels, roses and foliage, and they are surrounded by cherubs. The keystone is six meters wide, and the dove of the Holy Spirit sits at the very center.

Grand organ
The main organ of the basilica was restored in 1996 by the organ manufacturer Jean Renaud in Nantes. He restores the instrument in depth under the direction of his workshop manager and harmonist Michel Jurine. The sound palette is modified by the addition of 11 new games:

Positive: Progressive Full-Game of III-IV, Principal 4 ‘, Doublet 2’, Nazard, Tierce
at the Grand Orgue: progressive supply of IV-V
to the Story: Carillon II-III
Pedal: Main 8 ‘, Flute 4’, Trumpet 8 ‘, Clairon 4’

The harmonization of the 47 games is carried out by Michel Jurine on the basis of stronger pressures and with a very marked ascending character.

Restoration work
From 1913, Louis Sainte-Marie Perrin noticed that the masonry of the building was at work; this diagnosis was confirmed in 1919, when the working architect brought in an engineer on site. But these first findings are not followed by work. The basilica waited nearly a century before the falls of tesserae from the mosaics of the vaults as well as the general condition of the pediment justify the launch of emergency work in November 2006.

The lantern tower supporting the statue of Mary, also identified in 1923 as fragile, was immediately consolidated, under the supervision of Sainte-Marie Perrin and the engineer Mauvernay, by reinforced concrete ribs. But the state of the tower is nevertheless bad in 2006: the concrete ribs are cracked, those of oxidized metal, the lower surface of the dome is crumbling and the staircase is split. These degradations are to be blamed on the aging of the structures, which accelerated in particular under the effect of storm Martin.

On the advice of engineer Bernard Babinot, the bronze statue, which had been gilded in 1991, was placed on the forecourt from May 27 to November 20, 2008, the time to reinforce the structures, to replace the degraded stones of the bell tower (balconies, cords, cornices, bay sills), to protect the projecting elements under lead covers, finally to clean the facades, to renew the joinery and locksmiths and to have new lighting. In the meantime, the deposited statue, protected under a glass shelter, is also the subject of restoration: replacement of bolts, reinforcement of the base, replaced guardrail.

The first large-scale restorations on the basilica itself concern the northeast bell tower, known as the Prudence tower, or the Observatory. This tower, which houses an orientation table intended for the public, is structured by a metal frame ensuring the transfer of loads from the slabs to the load-bearing walls. These beams oxidize slowly until the end of the 20th century, when a resealing seal suddenly confines them, accelerating their deterioration.

On the other hand, the use of the spiers of the building as antennas since 1990 had created a sealing defect which had led to oxidation of the staircase, also metallic. In 2006, access to the tower was prohibited; the site was not launched until 2009, enough time to analyze the causes of the alterations and to plan the necessary work. A suspended scaffolding is attached to the tower; the original frame is completely removed, replaced and natural ventilation is created to prevent moisture build-up. The degraded decorations are restored and the tourist facilities better highlighted.

The next concern concerns the waterproofing of the slates forming the roof, which in 1913 caused “a withdrawal of the south side of the roof irons” (Sainte-Marie Perrin). When the first damage is observed, surveillance is carried out, but without particular concern. The angles are in place to strengthen the rafters, but the disjointment worsened in 1919 and 1931, causing cracks. In 2007, the observation made showed a serious lack of sealing, leading to the presence of water even on the vaults, cracking them. The cause of the damage is twofold: on the one hand, the slates, which are black in color, accumulate an enormous amount of heat, overheating the attic of the building during the day and thus increasing the expansion of the framework. On the other hand, the slates are too small and the covering is insufficient to constitute a waterproof cover. As the Trélazé deposits are no longer operational, they call on those of Ortigueira, in Galicia, which provide slates measuring 1.15 × 1.15 meters,.

The general condition of the statue of the Archangel Saint Michael was then examined in 2010; but the exterior appearance does not reveal any particular degradation: on the other hand, an endoscopy of the statue shows galvanic corrosion of the central steel pole at the point of contact between copper and iron. A phosphate-based insulation is sprayed, then an epoxy paint applied to the metal parts to prevent contact.

Finally, the various infiltrations damaged or soiled the decorations of the vaults of the basilica; a general diagnosis was undertaken in 2008. It shows that the expansion of the metal framework made the vaults work, where cracks appear; the mosaics are also affected, undergoing detachment, deterioration of the mortars, etc. The presence of water only made things worse, messing up and blackening the decorations.

To carry out the restoration of the decorations, a raised floor is installed at a height of sixteen meters in the upper church; this structure weighs about one hundred and fifty tons. Michel Patrizio’s team of mosaicists work there throughout 2012. The work begins with a cartographic auscultation of the entire surface. Interior work is then carried out in two stages. First, emergency consolidation was carried out, including sealing the cracks by injecting lime grout. The injection is performed with a syringe under the mosaic or mortar. Secondly, a complete overhaul of the decorations is undertaken. These were initially hung by iron nails, which rusted. The excessively damaged areas are completely peeled off and placed on a canvas. The reverse side of the mosaic can then be treated, then the restored decoration is put back. The presence of the raised floor, completed by mobile scaffolding,.

On this occasion, the enhancement of the interior of the building by lighting is completely revised. It had never been the subject of a design, Pierre Bossan having died before the industrial application of electricity. A long study was therefore carried out in 2013, resulting in the installation of only six chandeliers (two per bay), which made it possible to bring together multiple sources (twenty nine LED- type sourcesin each equipment) at a minimum number of points, to limit the length of cable deployed, to avoid any additional drilling in the vaults, and finally to optimize maintenance. These brass chandeliers weigh 490 kilograms and require two hundred and fifty hours of work each; their lifting system is motorized. Their appearance has been the subject of a special study, to make them resemble the old chandeliers.

All the work during 2006 to 2013 is estimated at 7.6 million euros, 59% funded by the communities (State, city of Lyon, Rhône departmental council and DRAC Rhône-Alpes), the rest being by the gifts of the faithful. Of this amount, 5.2 million euros are allocated to the basilica, the rest to its surroundings (Saint-Thomas chapel, statue, surroundings).

The basilica belongs to the perimeter of the old Lyon registered in World Heritage of UNESCO in 1998.

In addition to this status which is not specific to it, the basilica was classified as a historical monument on March 25, 2014. This classification concerns the entire building of the basilica as a whole, but also the Saint-Thomas chapel and the intermediate buildings; the facades and roofs of the old tower of the astronomical observatory, of the house housing the museum as well as its entire courtyard and old chapel; the square and the esplanade, with their fence and all their masonry elements, the facades and roofs of the Maison des Chapelains (except restaurant); finally the whole Rosary Garden.

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