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Lyon: the Virgin of Fourvière finds a crown, five years after a theft


Five years after the “trauma” of the theft of the crown of the Virgin of Fourvière, at the basilica of Lyon, some 800 faithful attended the ceremony of her re-coronation on Thursday evening.

After the illumination of “Merci Marie” on the hill of Fourvière, in anticipation of the Festival of Lights which will be held from December 8 to 11, a mass was celebrated by Monsignor Celestino Migliore, Apostolic Nuncio in France, and by the Archbishop of Lyon, Monsignor Olivier de Germay.

After the theft in 2017 of the crown, which was never found, Lyon families wanted to offer a new one and ordered it from the French goldsmith of Georgian origin Goudji. “I wanted to make a crown of the 21st century”and no “not a copy” of the stolen one, “that wouldn’t have been right”explained to the press the 81-year-old artist, known for having made swords for academicians, including that of Hélène Carrère d’Encausse, and hundreds of objects in gold, silver and stones, some of which were offered by French presidents to foreign heads of state.

Goudji created an open crown, with five florets like those of “medieval times” and encrusted with 16 hard stones (jasper, aventurine, onyx, sodalite…) each having “its symbolism”: red for the blood of Christ, green as a symbol of hope, etc. He wanted it “discreet”in silver.

An exceptional event

“This event is exceptional: a statue normally only has one coronation, and not all statues have this privilege”, explained the communication of Notre-Dame de Fourvière. The coronation decision rests with the pope or the Chapter of Saint Peter. “There are certain conditions for crowning a statue or a painting of the Virgin. There must be long standing devotion, and acts of grace and miracles”explained Monsignor Celestino Migliore.

The previous crown, adorned with 1,791 precious stones, was stolen on the night of May 12 to 13, 2017, from the Fourvière religious art museum, despite a sophisticated protection system. This unique piece was made in 1899 thanks to the donation of precious stones and pearls by Lyon families. Its value was estimated at “just over a million euros”according to investigators.

“It was a real trauma. Beyond the market value, it was above all the symbolism that was affected.declared to AFP the general delegate of the Fourvière Foundation, Magaly Chatain. “There is a small citrine which came off at the time of the theft and which we found on the ground: it was embedded in the new crown, and it is the link which continues between that of yesterday and that of ‘today”she rejoiced.


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