Some 80,000 Catholics visited La Vang shrine to celebrate the Assumption of Mary (photos)
by Cần Giờ Parish – CSsR

The number of visitors to the shrine has been steadily increasing over the past few years. In his homily, Archbishop Nguyên Chi Linh expressed his desire to see at least 200,000 pilgrims next year. La Vang has seen destruction and persecution following the historical vicissitudes of Vietnam and local Catholics.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – Vietnamese Catholics are still feeling the joy generated by this year’s great turnout for the celebrations on 15 August of the Assumption of Mary at the shrine of Our Lady of La Vang, Archdiocese of Huế.

Coming from every part of the country as well as overseas, about 80,000 people made it to the famous pilgrimage site in the central province of Quảng Trị.

The day before, a prayer vigil was held at the shrine, in which gospel choirs from all over the country took part.

For several years, the number of pilgrims visiting the shrine has been steadily increasing, said Mgr Giuse Nguyên Chi Linh, archbishop of Huế and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam (CBCV), in his homily during the solemn Mass of the Assumption.

The prelate read to those present a poignant testimony about devotion, citing in particular four stanzas from the song "Who am I?" by Fr Vinh Hanh.

"Who wearily walks through the streets of life? Who drowsily carries suffering on their shoulders? Come back here to the shelter under the morning star, come back here to forget your difficult days.

“For those who have never received the warmth of the embrace of Mother Mary and sluggishly endure the slow passing of days and months alone, come here to receive Her unconditional love and plentiful blessed grace.

“For those who are endlessly looking for enjoyment that brings anxious and sobbing days and nights, come here to confide in Her and receive Her boundless love.

“For those who do not know the right way to go, enduring miserably homeless lives, come back here to shelter in the whole-hearted arms of the Virgin Mary and inherit the happiness and tranquility of heaven."

The solemnity of the Assumption of Mary is the time in which La Vang shrine attracts the highest number of pilgrims.

But despite this year’s great influx, during the homily the Archbishop expressed a desire to see at least 200,000 pilgrims at festival devoted to Mary next year.

Bishop Giuse Nguyên Chi Linh also hopes that the reconstruction work at La Vang will be completed for the annual Diocesan Congress in Huế.

Built in 1798 after the first apparitions of the Virgin, the shrine was completely destroyed in 1972, during Vietnam’s civil war. Only the ancient bell tower remains of the original structure, restored as a historic symbol that reminds the faithful how the community strongly stood up on the ruins, despite unexpected suffering and problems.

After 1975, Vietnam’s Communist government exerted strong pressure, in order to stop Catholics from visiting the shrine. But in the end, the authorities failed in their attempt to ban faith in God.

For their part, the Vietnamese are very devoted to Mary and often recite the Rosary. For the them, the Mother of God represents motherly love for the poor, the afflicted and the miserable.

The veneration for Our Lady of La Vang is not limited to Catholics. Buddhists and Protestants also pray to the Virgin Mary for special graces.