Our Lady of La Vang
From the Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute
Lady of La Vang is the central and national shrine of Vietnam, approximately
60 kilometers from the former capitol Huê. The name is derived from a
type of ferm which used to grow in great quantities in the region. During the
great persecution (1798-1801) many Christians took refuge in the jungle situated
in proximity of Quang Tri, a village in central Vietnam, where they experienced
hunger and sickness, and prepared themselves for martyrdom. One day, as the
community was assembled in prayer, the figure of a lady surrounded by many lights,
appeared to them. She presented herself as the Mother of God, encouraged and
consoled them, and gave them a special sign of her loving care. She advised
the people to use the leaves of the fern to treat their ailments, and promised
them to receive their prayers with maternal generosity. All who would congregate
on this site to pray would be heard and their petitions granted. Mary appeared
on several occasions at the same site. After the persecution in 1802, the Christians
left their jungle hiding place and returned to their villages. However, the
story of the apparition and its message was passed on. In 1820 a chapel was
built at the apparition site. From 1820-1885 still another wave of persecution
decimated the Christian population. More than 100,000 Vietnamese Christians
died as martyrs. In 1885 the chapel in honor of Our Lady of La Vang was destroyed
by a fanatic. A new chapel was built between 1886 and 1901 (consecration). Soon
it was no longer able to hold the many pilgrims to La Vang, and in 1923 a new
and bigger church was erected. It was consecrated in 1928 (August 22) in the
presence of 20,000 pilgrims. Every three years a national pilgrimage was organized
for the whole country which was to have a special meaning even after the separation
of South and North. In 1959 La Vang was officially declared a national shrine,
marking the 300 years of the Church's presence in Vietnam (AAS 51 (1959) 84-86).
The Church of La Vang was made a basilica minor in 1961.
The Holy Father recently said, "In visiting the shrine of Our Lady of La Vang, who is so loved by the Vietnamese faithful, pilgrims come to entrust to her their joys and sorrows, their hopes and sufferings. In this way, they call on God and become intercessors for their families and nation, asking the Lord to infuse in the heart of all people feelings of peace, fraternity and solidarity, so that all the Vietnamese will be more united every day in the construction of a world based on essential spiritual and moral values, where each one will be recognized because of his dignity as a son of God, and be able go in freedom and as a son toward the Father of Heaven, rich in mercy."
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Copyright Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute. This article is reprinted with the permission of The Mary Page of Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute, University of Dayton, Dayton, USA.
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