Saigon (AsiaNews) – “I live among my flock and I will die among them. I will not go anywhere,” said Father François Xavier Truong Buu Diep, who was killed by the Communists on 12 March 1946 in Tac Say, in southern Vietnam, almost 2,000 kilometres from the capital of Hanoi, along with 30 other Catholics. Now almost 65 years later he is venerated by Catholics, Protestants and non-believers, who line up every year before his tomb to pray, ask for a blessing or seek healing.
Father Diep was born in 1897 and was ordained in 1924, after completing studies at Phnom Penh Major Seminary in Cambodia. During his ministry in Vietnam, the country was torn apart by war. In that period the Việt Minh came down harshly on the country’s Catholic community.
When he and 30 lay Catholics were captured by enemy forces, they are held in a rice paddy storehouse. Later the priest's body was found in a nearby pond, but the authorities were unable to agree as to who killed him, and why.
Members of the Tac Say parish told AsiaNews that in life “Father François helped the poor, orphans and the elderly.” Now “through miracles he continues to heal, help and bring comfort to those who venerate him.”
In fact, many witnesses have spoken about miraculous healings and unexplained events after the priest’s death.
The most remarkable story concerns his burial place. According to the faithful, when his tomb was built, the owner of the construction company doing the work said that Father Diep appeared to him and gave him the money directly into his hands.
Stories like this have contributed to spreading the cult of the Vietnamese priest around the country, as well as abroad.
In addition to altars and chapels that were built and dedicated to him in the provinces of the Mekong Delta, many Vietnamese Catholics living abroad continue to call on the martyr for his intervention.
One example is that of Rose and Ben Hinahon, owners of a shop that sells images of prosperity and spiritual significance in San Diego, California.
By praying to Father Diep, the Hinahons were able to overcome a deep financial and spiritual crisis.
After this the husband-and-wife team decided to devote much of their time to encourage devotion to the priest and collect accounts of graces received by those who invoke him.