Christchurch Bishop Paul Martin, SM, unveiled a new shrine at Leithfield, just north of Christchurch, on the 25th Jubilee Celebration of the presence of the Community of the Beatitudes in New Zealand on December 7.

The golden statue that was enthroned at the Fourvière House of Prayer and Retreat is a replica of the golden statue of Our Lady which stands at the top of the basilica on Fourvière Hill in Lyon.

The statue on the basilica in Lyon.

This place is very significant to the mission of the Church in Aotearoa New Zealand, and indeed the whole of Oceania, because it was to Fourvière in Lyon, that many of the first missionaries, including, Bishop Pompallier, St Peter Chanel and Suzanne Aubert went to consecrate themselves to Jesus, through Mary, before setting out on mission to our shores.

Bishop Patrick Le Gal, auxiliary Bishop of Lyon, was present at the opening of the new shrine.

Event organiser, Michael Loretz, hopes that, following the example of the first missionaries, many will be inspired to make the pilgrimage to the shrine to become renewed in spirit, before heading out on mission to their
families and communities.

“Fourvière in Lyon is known as the Marian Soul of Lyon, because of the many orders and missionary efforts that have come from there. We hope that the shrine at Fourvière in Leithfield will become known as the ‘Marian Soul of the South’ and be a place where families and individuals can come for rest, spiritual renewal and a living encounter with Jesus,” he said.

The celebration on Saturday, December 7, began with Holy Mass at 6pm, followed by the opening of the shrine, a picnic, a candlelight Marian procession and then adoration under the stars.

The site of the new shrine is at the Fourvière House of Prayer and Retreat, 67 Leithfield Rd, Leithfield, and is home to the Community of the Beatitudes, a community of priests, consecrated people and lay people, originally from France.