Basilica of Saint-Martin d'Ainay (Lyons)

Basilica of Saint-Martin d'Ainay is a Roman Catholic Cathedral is a beautiful Romanesque basilica situated in the central Lyon. It was built in the 11th century.


Location: 11 Rue Bourgelat

Tel. +33 472 40 02 50


History of Basilica of Saint-Martin d'Ainay

Local legends claim that the site was this church is closely tied to early Roman martyrs that were killed in Lyon at the local amphitheatre. One of these martyrs, Saint Blandina was a young girl among the 48 Christians that were condemned to death by the Roman officials. In 177 they were thrown on the arena to be fed to the wild animals. Lions refused to kill Blandina, but she was executed anyway. Her remains were burned and thrown in a river. Remains of Blandina washed on the banks and local Christians chose this place for her burial. After Christianity was legalize first Christian church was constructed on the former burial site.


In 859 a Benedictine prior was founded in Lyon. Basilica of Saint-Martin d'Ainay was constructed in the 11th century under supervision of Abbot Gaucerand. Its construction was finally consecrated on 29 January 1107 and dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours. During the French Wars of Religion the troops of the Baron des Adrets stormed the abbey in 1562. They torched many buildings and badly damaged walls of Basilica of Saint-Martin d'Ainay. It was subsequently restored by the surviving monks. In 1600 King Henry IV of France stayed in the abbey before his marriage ceremony to Marie de' Medicine that took place in Lyon Cathedral of Saint John the Baptiste.


Benedictine Monastery was disbanded in the 18th century and Basilica of Saint-Martin d'Ainay was simply turned into a parish church for all residents of Lyon. However after the French Revolution the church was nationalized and closed. It was briefly transformed into a grain warehouse, but in 1802 it was returned to a Catholic Church. In 1844 it was added to the list of historic monuments by the French Ministry of Culture as one of the most majestic Romanesque church in the region. On 13 June 1905 it was raised to the rank of basilica by Pope Saint Pius X. Today magnificent Basilica of Saint-Martin d'Ainay is open to the public. It is an active church with Catholic service held regularly within its walls. Additionally it serves as a burial place of Bishop John O'Brien of Cloyne and Ross, famous Irish antiquarian who died in Lyon on 13 March 1769.