The Marian shrine in La Vang 60 kms west of Hue is the most sacred place
for Vietnamese Christians. It is the site of a holy apparition by the Virgin Mary in the 18th century witnessed by several hundred people during the Great Persecution that saw 117,000 Vietnamese Christians killed from 1798 to 1886 thru an official royal edict. The Virgin Mary appeared to the people praying at the huge banyan tree in the jungle and promised to heal them and answer their prayers. She told them to brew a tea from the leaves of a fern that grows in the jungle for the sick.
In 1928 the current Basilica was built. In 1962, Pope John XXIII declared the church a Minor Basilica of La Vang but which was later destroyed during fighting in 1972, the communist government has prevented its reconstruction as part of its uneasy political
relationship with the Vatican, pretty weak really.
The Marian site at La Vang has not been recognised by the Vatican partly due to the communist regime's non-recognition of the Vatican State & in return the Vatican wont verify the La Vang apparition because apparently The Mother of God apparently doesnt travel outside of Europe, sounds like play ground rules, however this fact has not stopped pilgrims flocking to this historic.
Despite heavy communist govt restrictions on the Church, every August Viet pilgrims from across the country & ex-pats abroad converge into La Vang for a huge Mass that attracts tens of thousands. Each 3 years this event culminates in an official pilgrimage that usually attracts up to 500,000 who camp on the grounds in tents creating a huge
festive atmosphere of Vietnamese Christianity. The 29th Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of La Vang will be in August 2011
The site houses a pilgrimage centre that can provide free accommodation for several hundred visitors but a small donation is expected esp if you are not a pilgrim, dont be a scab & stay here just for a free bed. There are next to none accomodation nearby or restaurants, getting to La Vang can be organised thru any taxi company with a fixed price of around 700,000 VND.
In typical Viet fashion u will not only find Christians & Catholics praying
there, many Buddhists also join in hoping any divine intervention is good
intervention. Vatican verification rubbish aside, If you go there & feel a
sense of serenity that a holy place exudes then whatever old men who
play with boys say doesnt mean much in the spiritual realm, it is what it is.
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