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Place de Fourvière (5e)
(Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière)

Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière

Statues and Reliefs at the Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière

Various sculptors
1891-1962

Lyon /  Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière   Lyon /  Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière

Description

The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière is built with private funds between 1872 and 1884. The basilica is designed by Pierre Bossan, and shows elements from both Romanesque and Byzantine architecture, two non-Gothic models that were unusual choices at the time. It has four main octagonal towers, and a belltower topped with a gilded statue of the Virgin Mary. It features fine mosaics, superb stained glass, and a crypt of Saint Joseph. The front façade is richly decorated with sculptures, the two northern towers have at the lowest level some statues and large reliefs decorate to east and west façades.

Front façade

The façade is 35 metre long, the main part is a portico composed of three arches, above the portico is an open gallery with eigh angels with swords as caryatids, and the façade is topped with a fronton.

La Vierge à l'enfant, by Charles Dufraine 1891-95 (Penlou cat. 78; Gambier p. 44-45)

Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière

In the central part of the fronton is a niche with a statue of Saint Mary presenting Jesus to the world, above her the archangels Raphael with a fish, and Michael. On the left side a relief showing the vow of the aldermen of Lyon made when beseeching her to save the city from the plague in 1643. The depicted persones are however not the aldermen from 1643, but the presidents of the Fourvière commission, from right to left: Paul Brac de la Perrière (1814-1894, offering the gold coins), Alphonse de Boissieu (1807-1886, with the votive candle), Prosper Dugas (1810-1875), Antoine Frapet (1791-1854), Lucien Brun (1822-1898) and Joannès Blanchon, 40 years secretary of the commission depicted as a plague victom guided by an angel.
On the right side the reliefs shows the vow of 1870 to build the basilica. Here the depicted persons are cardinals: from left to right: Pierre-Hector Coullié (1829-1912, presenting the basilica), Joseph-Alfred Foulon (1823-1893, with the Episcopal cross), Louis-Marie Caverot (1806-1887, who blessed the final stone), Jacques Ginoulhiac (1806-1874), Louis-Jacques-Maurice de Bonald (1787-1870), and the architect Pierre Bossan presenting a plan of the basilica. At the far end is the guardian angel of Lyon.

Huit anges cariatides portant des épées / Eight Angels-Caryatids with swords, by Paul-Émile Millefaut (Penlou cat. 132 and 155; Gambier p. 46).

Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière

Tétramorphe / Tetramorph, Charles Dufraine (Penlou cat. 83; Gambier p. 46)

Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière
Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière

In the cusps of the arches are the symbols of the four evangelists: Angel (Matthew), Lion (Mark), Bull (Luke) and Eagle (John the Evangelist).

Trois anges portant des phylactères / Three angels carrying speech scrolls (Penlou cat. 82)

Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière

On the wall inside the portico are under the arches three medaillons with kneeling angels holding speech scrolls, with the trinitarian formula: 'IN N PATRIS | ET FILII | ET SPIRITVS S.' (in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti, in English: in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit).

Vierge avec Adam et Eve / The Virgin Mary with Adam and Eve (Penlou cat. 80; Gambier p. 47)

Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière

Above the door is a relief showing the Virgin Mary with at here feet Adam and Eve, with on the left side Archangel Michael killing the snake of Paradise with a bolt of lightning and on the right side the Archangel Gabriel with a speech scroll 'AVE MARIA GRATIA PLENA' (his greeting formula, from Luke 1:28).

Personnalités de la chrétienté lyonnaise / Personalities of Lyon's Christianity, by Joseph Belloni 1940 (Penlou cat. 79; Gambier p. 47)

Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière

The following persons are shown (not quite clear is who is who) Saint Vincent de Paul, Saint Pierre Chanel (1803-1841), Saint Jean-Marie Vianney, Saint Marcellin Champagnat, the Venerable Pauline Jaricot, Father Antoine Chevrier (1826-1879) and Father Jean-Claude Colin (b. 1790), further Cardinal Pierre-Marie Gerlier (1880-1965) and the rectors Lavallé and Gaillant; and finally several craftsmen en others involved in the project: architect Louis Mortamet and his family, Maurice Guérin (publicist), Joseph Belloni, the Lepercq family, René Mouterde (a Catholic writer) and Gabriel Gindre.

Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel

Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière

On the sidewalls of the portico, as a continuation of the frieze of the Personalities, are reliefs showing:
(left) The Expulsion from Paradise (Genesis 3, 22-23, left part) and The Trials of Man and Woman (Genesis 3, 16-19, right part) with the text 'PER HEVAM INTERITVS PER MARIAM SALVVS' (By Eve came Destruction, by Mary Salvation; as 'Per Evam Mors...' in St. Jerome, Epistula 22 ad Eustochium),
(right) The banishing of Cain after the murder of his brother Abel (Genesis 4, 3-16), with the text 'PER FEMINAM MORS PER FEMINAM VITA' (By a woman came Death, By a woman came Life; St. Augustine, Sermon 232, 2)

Lion de Juda / The Lion of Juda, by Charles Dufraine, 1885-88 (Penlou cat. 154; Gambier p. 48)

Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière

On the steps in front of the faŁade is the statue of the Lion of Juda, guarding to roof of the entrance to the crypt. To the left and right are the inscriptions: 'ECCE VICIT LEO DE TRIBV IVDA' (The Lion of the tribe of Judah has conquered, Acts of the Apostles 5:5); Gen. and 'REQVIESCENS VT LEO ACCVBVSTI' (Like a lion he crouches and lies down, Genesis 49:9).

Towers

The north-east tower represents prudence, the north-west tower depicts strength, the south-west tower personifies justice and the south-east one temperance. Two northern towers have sculptures, each a large relief with the theme of the tower, with three angels flanking them.

Tour de la Courage / Tower of Courage, by Jean Larrivé 1917-20? (Penlou cat. 159-161; Gambier p. 48)

Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière
Samson déchirant un lion / Samson ripping a lion
Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière
Jacob luttant contre l'Ange / Jacob Wrestling with the Angel
Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière


Three angels, the most right one called 'Angel of Silence'.

Tour de la Justice / Tower of Justice, by Joseph Belloni 1945-1952 (Penlou cat. 157, 158 and 162; Gambier p. 51)

Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière
David et Goliath / David and Goliath
Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière
Jugement de Salomon / Judgment of Solomon
Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière

The left angels holds a tablet with the Ten Commandments; under the most right angel - made 1945 - is a commemorative plaque for Belloni: 'J. BELLONI, l'imagier de notre dame 1898-1964 n'a pu terminer l'oeuvre commencee'. Ange, Belloni 1945

Side façades

At the side facades are four large reliefs, three on the north side and one on the south side. The represent the cardinal virtues and glorify the Virgin in the form of sainty women from the Bible. In the center of each a seated woman with a short text, to both sides are reliefs showing each a Biblical scene with the relevant excerpt from the Bible story.

North, from left to right:

La Charité: Rachel et Rebecca / Charity: Rachel and Rebecca, by Joseph Belloni 1960 (Penlou cat. 86; Gambier p. 50)

Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière

Speech tablet: 'MAJOR EST CARITAS'
Relief left: 'ET ECCE RACHEL VENIEBAT CVM OVIBVS PATRIS SVI | QVAM CVM VIDISSET JACOB AMOVIT LAPIDEM' (and Rachel came with her father's sheep. When Jacob saw her, he rolled the stone away; Genesis 29:9-10).
Relief right: 'APPARVIT REBECCA VENIENS CVM HYDRIA Q PORTABAT IN SCAPVLA | IPSA EST MVLIER QVAM PRAEPARAVIT DOMINVS FILIO DOMINI M' (Rebecca came out, with her jar on her shoulder. She is the woman the Lord has chosen for my master's son; Genesis 24:44-45).

L'Espérance: Esther et Judith / Hope: Esther and Judith, by Joseph Belloni 1959 (Penlou cat. 85; Gambier p. 50)

Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière

Speech shield: 'SPES NON CONFVNDIT'
Relief left: 'SI INVENTI GRATIAM IN OCVLIS T O REX ET SI T PLACET | DONA MIHI POPVLVM MEVM PRO QVO OBSECRO' (If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life and spare my people; Esther 7:3)
Relief right: 'LAVDATE D DEVM M Q NON DESERVIT SPERANTES IN SE | ET IN ME ANCILLA S ADIMPLEVIT MESERICORDIAM SVAM' (Praise the Lord our God, who had not forsaken them that hope in him, and by me his handmaid he had fulfilled his mercy; Judith 13:17-18)

La Foi: Jahel et Marie soeur d'Aaron / Faith: Jael and Mary sister of Aaron, by Joseph Belloni 1955 (Penlou cat. 84; Gambier p. 50)

Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière

Speech scroll: 'VICTORIA FIDES NOSTRA'
Relief left: 'SVRGE SVRGE DEBBORA SVRGE ET LOQVERE CANTICVM | BENEDICTA INTER MVLIERES JAHEL VXOR HABER CINÆI' (Awake, awake, Deborah! awake, sing a song! Most blessed of women is Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite; Judges 5:12 and 24).
Relief right: 'CANTEMVS DOMINO GLORIOSE ENIM MAGNIFICATVS EST | EQVVM ET ASCENSOREM EIVS DEJECIT IN MARE' (I will sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously! He has thrown the horse and his rider into the sea!; Exodus 15:1).

South

L'Humilité et la Chasteté: la fille de Jephté et Suzanne / Humility and Chastity: Jephtah's daughter and Susanna, by Joseph Belloni 1962 (Penlou cat. 87; Gambier p. 52)

Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière

Relief left: 'OCCVRRIT EI VNIGENITA FILIA SVA CVM TYMPANIS | PATER MI FAC MIHI QVODCVMQVE POLLICITVS ES' (She was coming out with a tambourine; She was his only child. Do to me what has come out of your mouth; Judges 11:34 and 36).
Relief right: 'HELCIAS ET VXOR EJVS LAVDAVERVNT DEVM PRO FILIA S | SVSANNA QVIA NON ESSET INVENTA IN EA RES TVRPIS' (But Helcias and his wife praised God, for their daughter Susanna, because there was no dishonesty found in her; Daniel 13:63).

Lyon - Statues et reliefs à la Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière

Sculptors

Sources & Information

Tags

  • Cain and Abel
  • Caverot, Louis-Marie
  • Champagnat, St. Marcellin
  • Chevrier, Antoine
  • Colin, Jean-Claude
  • Coullié, Pierre-Hector
  • David (king)
  • Dufraine, Charles
  • Dugas, Prosper
  • Esther
  • Evangelists (Four)
  • Expulsion from Paradise
  • Expulsion from Paradise
  • Façade with statues (church)
  • Foulon, Joseph-Alfred
  • Frapet, Antoine
  • Gabriel (Archangel)
  • Gaillant, rector
  • Gerlier, Pierre-Marie
  • Gindre, Gabriel
  • Ginoulhiac, Jacques
  • Goliath
  • Guardian Angel
  • Guérin, Maurice
  • Jacob and the Angel
  • Jael
  • Jaricot, Pauline
  • Jean-Marie Vianney, St.
  • Jephtah's daughter
  • Judith
  • Larrivé, Jean-Baptiste
  • Lavallé, rector
  • Lepercq family
  • Lion
  • Mary sister of Aaron
  • Mary with Child
  • Michael, St.
  • Millefaut, Paul-Émile
  • Mortamet, Louis
  • Mouterde, René
  • Pierre Chanel, St.
  • Rachel
  • Raphael (Archangel)
  • Rebecca
  • Samson
  • Solomon
  • Susanna (biblical figure)
  • Tympanum
  • Vincent de Paul, St.
  • Location (N 45°45'44" - E 4°49'20")

    Item Code: frra078; Photograph: 11 August 2018
    Of each statue we made photos from various angles and also detail photos of the various texts.
    If you want to use photos, please contact us via the contact form (in Dutch, English or German).
    © Website and photos: René & Peter van der Krogt