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Catholic Dictionary




A shrine church to Our Lady and St. Thomas of Canterbury, near Lyons, France. A basilica, crowning the hill at Fourvières, was built in thanksgiving to God for preserving the city of Lyons from invasion in the Prussian War of 1870, but it is the old sanctuary close by that is of greater interest. This very old church dedicated to Our Lady consists of just two aisles. During its reconstruction in the twelfth century Archbishop Thomas of Canterbury, an exile in Lyons, visited the church. Knowing that one aisle led to Mary's shrine, he asked the prelate in charge to whom the second aisle was to be dedicated. He was told, "To the next English martyr." Before the church was finished Thomas himself had been killed in England. Ever since, Fourvières has been identified with his name and is a place of pilgrimage, especially from England, in memory of St. Thomas à Becket (1118-70).