The History of Our Lady of La Vang
Our Lady of La Vang is a title given to the apparition of the Virgin Mary in Vietnam, who appeared to a group of persecuted Catholics in the late 18th century. The story begins in 1798, when the Nguyen Dynasty, a Vietnamese dynasty, began a wide-scale persecution of Catholics, who were seen as a threat to the traditional Vietnamese way of life. Many Catholics were imprisoned, tortured, and killed during this time, and their churches were destroyed. During this persecution, a group of Catholics fled to the jungles of La Vang, in the central region of Vietnam. They lived in hiding, praying and practicing their faith in secret. One night, as they gathered to pray the Rosary, they saw a beautiful woman dressed in traditional Vietnamese clothing, holding a baby in her arms. She appeared to them several times, bringing them comfort and encouragement in their time of need. The group of Catholics recognized the woman as the Virgin Mary, and they began to venerate her as Our Lady of La Vang. They built a small shrine in her honor, and word of their sightings spread throughout the region. Soon, other Catholics began making pilgrimages to the jungle to pray at the shrine, seeking the intercession of Our Lady of La Vang for their own needs. Over time, the persecution of Catholics in Vietnam subsided, and the shrine of Our Lady of La Vang became a symbol of hope and perseverance for the Vietnamese people. In 1961, Pope John XXIII granted a canonical coronation to the statue of Our Lady of La Vang, and in 1988, Pope John Paul II canonized 117 Vietnamese martyrs who had died during the persecution in the late 18th century. Today, the Shrine of Our Lady of La Vang is a popular site at Christ Cathedral located in Garden Grove, California. It is a testament to the faith and resilience of the Vietnamese people, and a reminder of the power of prayer and devotion to the Virgin Mary.
About the Our Lady of La Vang Shrine at Christ Cathedral
The centerpiece of the Our Lady of La Vang Shrine is a statue of the Virgin Mary as she is believed to have appeared before a group of persecuted Vietnamese Catholics in 1798. During that historic Marian apparition, which took place in a remote rainforest region in Vietnam, the Blessed Mother offered the desperate parishioners hope and guidance. In the centuries since, Our Lady of La Vang, as the apparition has since been named, has represented hope, faith and promise to Vietnamese Catholics around the world.
Weighing an estimated 16,000 pounds, the 12-foot-tall statue was carved from white marble extracted from a quarry in Carrara, Italy. It took one and a half years to sculpt.
Standing on a cloud, Mary is depicted wearing a traditional Vietnamese áo dài dress and khăn đống hat. She has a Eurasian face and holds the Baby Jesus. Behind her are three supporting poles that hold up the
canopy-like structure, which itself symbolizes the rainforest setting of the 1798 Marian apparition. The poles resemble the three banyan trees that were behind the Virgin Mary during the apparition.