Leigh Hatts  

Lights and candles in Lyon for Immaculate Conception

Lyon’s Notre Dame de Fourviere and other buildings are now lit with electricity

Is the feast of the Immaculate Conception on its usual date 8 December or Monday 9 December?

It depends where you are.

In England and Wales it is being observed just for this year on 9 December to allow us to keep the Second Sunday of Advent without distraction.

But in Rome the Pope is going to the Column of the Immaculate Conception near the Spanish Steps on Sunday afternoon.

In Lyon, where a candle tradition on the day has become a major light show lasting several days, the feast is being kept on the evening of 8 December as usual.

However, a French national rail strike may mean that the traditional candle procession from the cathedral after vespers to the hilltop Notre Dame de Fourviere may once again be a largely local event.

Lyon candles

The Immaculate Conception celebrates the conception of the Virgin Mary by Anne as a result of her sexual intercourse with husband Joachim. ‘Immaculate’ refers to the belief that Mary was conceived free of sin in order to preserve the purity of her son Jesus.