Our Lady Of La Vang Shrine
The Our Lady of La Vang Shrine is a contemporary outdoor display that serves as a testament to the remarkable journey of the Vietnamese-American people – from war and persecution to a new reality where faith and community are vibrant and ascendent. The shrine also honors the important contributions of the Vietnamese-Catholic diaspora in Orange County, which is home to the world’s largest population of Vietnamese outside of Vietnam.
The Virgin Mary statue resembles how the Blessed Mother is believed to have appeared before s group of persecuted Vietnamese Catholics in 1798 in a rainforest in Vietnam. Standing on a cloud, Mary is depicted wearing a traditional Vietnamese áo dài dress and khăn đóng hat. She has a Eurasian face and holds the Baby Jesus.
Behind the Virgin Mary 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.
The statue was co-designed by a priest board headed by Monsignor Tuan Pham of Saint Columban Catholic Church and a local Vietnamese-American artist, with approval from the Diocese Sacred Arts Committee and Bishop Kevin Vann. It was sculpted by Andrea Ceccarelli of the Italian Marble Company based in Carrara, Italy.
About 400 steel panels are incorporated into the shrine structure. There are 80 skylight glass panels in the shrine. A medallion made of basalt stone sourced from Vietnam is on the ground around the statue.
The shrine also contains a section of donor names and the names of 117 Catholics who were martyred for their religious beliefs in Vietnam.
The Our Lady of La Vang Shrine was blessed before a crowd of nearly 9,000 people on July 17, 2021.
Approximately 300 volunteers have helped make the shrine a reality. The project started in 2016 and finished its first phase in 2021.