About us

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fourvière is a place where families, individuals and groups can come for rest, spiritual renewal, times of prayer, Eucharistic Adoration, Mass, feast day events, picnics and much more. Come and  be inspired by the story of the first missionaries to Oceania. Meet the Community of the Beatitudes which is a living community of Priests, Consecrated Sisters and Lay people and encounter Mary and Jesus in this special place.

We are looking forward to welcoming you for your visit or your next retreat.

The Fourvière logo is an interpretation of the original mission flag that was fixed to the mast of the Sancta Maria, Bishop Pompallier’s first mission ship to Oceania. 


The Beatitudes Catholic Community is an international Ecclesial Family of Consecrated Life in the Catholic Church. It was founded in France in ...



Meet the staff, community members, and some of the many volunteers that work at the Sanctuary of Fourvière and find out how you too can get involved in this important mission.

The mission of the Church in New Zealand has its deepest roots in Fourvière, Lyon, where from the earliest centuries, a love for Our Lady was fostered, and many missionary efforts were inspired. Learn more...

In 1836, Bishop Pompallier, went to Fourvière in Lyon before departing with the first missionaries for Oceania. St Peter Chanel was with him on that voyage. Suzanne Aubert was another missionary whose spiritual home was the Shrine of Fourvière...



Click here to see photos of  life at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fourvière and the Community of the Beatitudes. Stay in touch with us on Facebook and Youtube.


The Fourvière Logo

The Fourvière logo is an interpretation of the original mission flag that was fixed to the mast of the Sancta Maria, Bishop Pompallier’s first mission ship to Oceania. 


His mission was dedicated to Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception and the flag was based on that symbol as found on the ‘miraculous medal’. The flag depicted a blue cross, with a monogram of Mary.

The cross was surrounded by twelve stars and under it was a crescent moon, symbolising the Woman of the Apocalypse. ~ Rev.12


The Fourvière logo incorporates the prow of a waka, suggesting the arrival of these first missionaries, in whose spirit Fourvière seeks to continue the work of evangelisation today, We too anchor ourselves in this spiritual tradition under Mary’s banner. The waka is also in the form of a koru, which symbolises new life and ongoing spiritual renewal. 

The Community of the Beatitudes

The Beatitudes Catholic Community is an international Ecclesial Family of Consecrated Life in the Catholic Church. It was founded in France in 1973 and opened its first house in New Zealand in Christchurch on the 8th December,  1994. The first members were welcomed into the Catholic Maori Community at Te Rangimarie in Gloucester Street. The Beatitudes Community is made up of three branches: priests and brothers, consecrated sisters, and associated lay members. 

It has 800 members in fifty houses worldwide.

The life of the Community is made up of prayer and service, with hospitality being an important dimension. This is expressed through retreats, days of recollection, spiritual guidance, and fostering a contemplative spirit in the midst of daily life, through the unceasing prayer of the heart. Committed to the New Evangelisation, the Beatitudes Community seeks to announce the Good News of the Gospel through its liturgy, beauty, music, art, youth apostolate, works of compassion, and missionary activity. 

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This Community of Consecrated Brothers, Sisters, Priests and Lay people, give a special life to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fourvière. Their vibrant charism unites the states of life, welcomes families and individuals and inspires a joyful anticipation of the coming of Jesus in glory. In prayer, liturgy and festivals, elements of Latin, Hebrew and Byzantine traditions are carefully blended, in ways that animate the soul in charismatic fervor, awe and profound reverence towards Jesus.

"In the Heart of the Church my Mother,

I will be Love"

(St Therese of Lisieux)

Fourvière, from Lyon


Origin of the Name
Fourvière Hill, overlooking the French city of Lyon, was originally the location of the old Roman Forum, or ‘Forum Vetus’. As early as 1168, a Christian chapel was built on the hill, which had already become a Marian shrine. Fourvière has been called ‘the hill that prays’ (‘la colline qui prie’), or ‘the mystical hill’, because of the churches and religious communities that are present there. 

Spiritual Roots
The first Christian community of the Gauls was established in Lyon, where the proto-martyrs of the French Church were put to death. Among them were Saint Pothin, first bishop of Lyon, and his companions. His successor was Saint Irenaeus, disciple of Saint Polycarp, who was a disciple of St John the Evangelist.

The Shrine of Fourvière
The original church of Our Lady of Fourvière, built in 1170, was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and to the medieval English Saint, Thomas Becket, who had lived in exile in the region and was martyred at Canterbury in 1170. The golden statue on top of the church was inaugurated on the 8th of December 1852, two years before the promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. The ceremony was postponed because of rain, so the locals placed candles in their windows instead.  Since then the tradition of lighting candles on the 8th December has continued. Thousands descend upon Lyon each year for what is now called the La Fête des Lumières, the Festival of Lights.

The Fourvière Pledge 

Courveille, Champagnat and Colin, the founding fathers of the Society of Mary, were ordained in Lyon on the 22nd of July 1816. The next day they and nine other companions climbed Fourvière hill to the shrine, where Courveille celebrated his first mass. There they promised to found a congregation that would belong to Mary and be named for her. Their written pledge was placed on the altar during the Mass and after communion the twelve read out their promise, which became known as the Fourvière Pledge. 2016 marks the bicentenary of this event.


The Oceania Mission
Twenty years after the founding of the Marist order, in October 1836, Bishop Pompallier had a novena of Masses offered in the same church before the departure of the first missionaries for Oceania. On the last day of the novena, Fr Peter Chanel SM, the future proto-martyr of Oceania, hung a heart-shaped pendant on the Statue of Our Lady containing the names of the departing missionaries. 


Suzanne Aubert was another missionary to New Zealand whose spiritual home was the sanctuary of Fourvière. Her mother, Clarice, had been diagnosed with cancer in 1845 and was miraculously cured at the shrine of Fourvière.

Fourvière, then, is the cradle of the Oceania mission, a mission that the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fourvière in Leithfield, New Zealand is set to continue.

The opening of the Shrine

7th December 2019

A very special invitation to visit the Sanctuary.
A Pentecost message from the Community of the Beatitudes.
Feast of the Assumption

The construction of the Shrine of Our Lady Mother of the Light. 

Sr Clare stands in the spot where Our La
the first sod is turned
The footprint of Our Lady (2)
A rainy wait
Preparing the ground
Builders Tim McDonald and Ambrose Loretz
the altar and plinth awaiting Our Lady
Statue in progress 3
Sans titre 2
Students and families deliver the statue
The 25 jubilee of the Beatitudes Community.

7th December 2019

On the vigil of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, members of the Beatitudes Community were joined by friends and families of the Christchurch diocese and further a field to celebrate the 25th Jubilee of their presence in New Zealand and the inauguration of a new shrine to Our Lady of Fourvière. Five hundred faithful gathered in the extensive gardens of the Beatitudes community.

The ceremony was honoured by the presence of Monsignor Le Gal, Auxiliary Bishop of Lyon and Father Pierre Marie from the community house in Sables-d’Olonne, both of whom had travelled all the way from France. They were joined by several Beatitude friends from New Caledonia and Sister Agnes from Australia. Local Maori leaders opened the ceremony with karakia and waiata and led the visitors into the sanctuary.

Matua Bob of Te Rangimarie was part of the first group of Maori who welcomed the Beatitude missionaries twenty-five years ago when they arrived in New Zealand and was there on 7th December to give the opening address at the sanctuary. The congregation was then moved to hear Bishop Le Gal speak to them in English, explaining about the Lyon Basilica of  Notre Dame de Fourvière and the journeys of blessed Suzanne Aubert, Bishop Pompallier, Saint Peter Channel, and the many other missionary saints who consecrated themselves to Mary in Lyon before setting out to evangelise Oceania.

At this point Bishop Le Gal unveiled a beautiful copy of ‘The Golden Virgin of Fourvière’. With this the mass began, presided over by Hon Paul Martin, Bishop of the Diocese of Christchurch.
It was an evening of great beauty and devotion for all those brought together under the motherly gaze of Mary, radiant beneath the southern summer sun. They sang the glory of God in English, Maori and Latin as they celebrated the Eucharist. The wind blew strongly, the Holy Spirit manifesting His presence.

The first Festival of Lights.


Once night had fallen, the faithful were invited to light a candle in preparation for the opening of the Fourvière ‘Festival of Lights’. In procession the Blessed Sacrament was accompanied from the Chapel to the Shrine.  Christ was then adored until dawn under the starry sky of the Southern Cross.

We entrust the New Evangelisation of this country into the hands of Mary in that hope that she will draw more and more pilgrims to Jesus each year for the ‘Festival of Lights’.


The instalation of the 12 Stars. 

Our Staff and Community Members

Consecrated Sister of the Community of the Beatitudes

Consecrated Sister of the Community of the Beatitudes

Consecrated Sister of the Community of the Beatitudes

Our Team of Volunteers

Meet some of our wonderful volunteers. The Sanctuary relies on the collaboration of a large team of volunteers who have put their talents forward to serve the Lord and his people in this apostolate. To volunteer your talents and time, please contact Michael Loretz 021 825 955 or email director@fourviere.nz

Clyde Thompson

Project Manager and Builder

Clyde has a been key to the whole Fourviere project unfolding. He is incredibly generous with his time and has the ability and experience to develop the site in a way that perfectly suits our vision and mission.



Caren Thompson

Interior Designer 

Caren has a wonderful eye for quality and style and a gift for resurrecting old furniture and transforming each space into a place of beauty. 

Dad's Army

Alexandra Light

Marketing Designer

Alex uses her eye for style, colour and feel to design our website, brochures and promotional material.

She is able to capture what we are about and what we are trying to offer and present it in a beautiful simplicity that reflects the spirit of Fourviere. 



Dad's Army are a team of men that altogether help with whatever needs to be done, from building and grounds maintenance, painting, electricity, building shelves - a team not to reckon with!







Our Volunteers

The Fourviere team welcome anyone who is willing to help.

Here are some pictures of our amazing volunteers so far.

Sr Thérèse

Sr Marie-Jeanne

Sr Clare


Micheal Loretz

Director of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fourvière

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Thomas & Eleanor Peacock

Apostolate co-ordinator of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fourvière

Fr Gregoire

Priest in the Community of the Beatitudes


The Board

Sr Therese

Chair & Co-Founder

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Fr John Adams

Trustee and Co-Founder


Caren Thompson


Vincent Chia



Sr Clare

Tim Goulding