La Vang is located in the middle of the Vietnamese jungle, in the commune of Hai Phu, a village in central Vietnam, in the Hai Lang district (Quang-tri province) and close to the flourishing Christianity of Co-vuu.
In the former kingdom of Annam, the emperor Can Trinh prohibited, on August 17, 1798, the Catholic religion introduced by the Spanish and French missionaries, inaugurating a period of persecutions and ordering the destruction of all places of worship. Christians from Co-vuu, fleeing persecution, came to take refuge in the “rain forest” in La Vang.
Christians often gather to pray the rosary at the foot of a tree. One evening in 1798, the Virgin appeared to them dressed in the traditional áo dài with the Child Jesus in her arms, surrounded by two angels. In a very soft voice, the Virgin pronounced these words that tradition has piously kept: “My children, what you have asked of me, I grant it to you, and from now on all those who come here to pray to me, I will grant them. . »
Having thus spoken, she disappeared, and after her the light which surrounded her. The peasants returned to their villages in 1802, when the persecution subsided. The rumor of the Marian apparition spread in Annam, causing the visit of pilgrims: a first chapel was built in 1820.
What the Blessed Virgin had promised, she accomplished. At the story of the many graces that she spread in her humble sanctuary of La Vang, pilgrims flocked, from the surrounding area and then from more distant lands, and the cult of Our Lady of La Vang has continued to grow. In particular, in those countries where sterility is considered a curse, many couples receive the grace of having descendants.
Protection is also granted by Our Lady: in the territory of La Vang, the tiger not only has never penetrated since the appearance, but has not made any victims among the Christians or the devotees of La Vang. However, the surroundings are infested with them, and it is not uncommon to encounter the terrible animal while crossing the forest: a single invocation to Our Lady of La Vang puts it to flight.
New persecutions and first reconstruction
Around 1830, a new wave of repression fell on the Christians of the region, under the reign of Emperor Tu Duc. This lasted until 1885. Thirty Annamese martyrs were burned alive at La Vang, and the sanctuary was destroyed.
A modest chapel was first built from 1886 to replace the old one. Soon a church was built in 1901. It was consecrated by Bishop Caspar under the name of Notre-Dame-Secours-des-Chrétiens, in front of twelve thousand faithful. On this occasion, Our Lady of La Vang is declared ‘protector of the Catholics of Viet Nam’. The church was enlarged in 1928.
After the Geneva Accords of 1954 and the partition of Vietnam, the statue of Notre-Dame de La Vang, which had been put in a safe place during the Indochina war, was returned to the church on December 8, 1954. church was chosen as a national pilgrimage site to the Immaculate Conception in April 1961. John XXIII elevated the church to the rank of minor basilica on August 22, 1961.
Destruction and rebirth
The church was destroyed by American bombardments during the Easter offensive launched by North Vietnam in the summer of 1972. Only the bell tower remains. On August 15, 1998, 70,000 faithful commemorated the 200th anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary at La Vang.
The grounds of the sanctuary were returned to the Church in 2008, and reconstruction began in 2012, but unfortunately, in a spirit of misplaced inculturation, the designers wanted the architectural form of the new sanctuary “to be in harmony with Vietnamese culture » ; it bears no resemblance to a church: externally it is a sort of large pagoda.
Our Lady of La Vang is revered in many Vietnamese parish communities around the world and several churches bear her name.
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Our Lady of La Vang
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