Lyon, Birthplace of French Christianity
Lyon and Early Christianity
Christianity came early to Lyon, largely through settlers from churches of Asia Minor: Pergamum, Smyrna and Ephesus. The church father Irenaeus described the Roman persecutions in which, beginning in 177 AD, hundreds of Christians were killed in the amphitheater in Lyon. This persecution marked the beginning of the rise of Christendom.
Changes through history
Centuries later, Lyon became the headquarters of the Catholic church in France. St. John's Cathedral dates from the 12th century and is still the headquarters of the cardinal of Lyon, who is also the archbishop of Gaul.
Church and state ties were severed during the French Revolution. The people identified the Bible with superstitions that paralyzed progress and denied political freedom. Philosophers such as Voltaire and Rousseau then made humanism their religion. God's Word was virtually banned from both religious and secular life. Today few people are believers.
Nineteen centuries ago, Christians in Lyon suffered martyrdom rather than deny the faith. Today that faith has been suffocated by centuries of tradition and religious indifference. Even for the minority still claiming to be Christian, faith impacts everyday life for very few people.
Lyon and Christianity today
As in most of the European postmodern world, it takes time for someone to become a follower of Christ, even if he is searching. Most French have never read the Bible and have very little knowledge about God. The Hendrixes made a lifetime commitment to the work in France and the French-speaking world. Understanding French language and culture comes only from long experience.
Here's a glimpse into some of Lyon’s rich history: