During much of the
18th century, the nation of Vietnam was embattled in
various struggles for power and domination. The northern regions of the
kingdom fell under the authority of the lords of the Trinh family, while in
the southern realm the Nguyen lords took power. As the eighteenth century
drew toward its close, both of their rules were shaken and threatened by
peasant uprisings and emerging rebel forces.
strongest among the many uprisings was led by the three brothers from Tay Son. In short order, they overthrew
the Nguyen lords and defeated the Trinh lords to restore national unity for
the first time since the decline of the Le dynasty. A Tay Son brother was enthroned to be King
Quang Trung. In 1792 he passed away and left the throne to his son who became
King Canh Thinh.
Nguyen Anh continued his insurgency in trying to reclaim his throne. Earlier
in his run from the Tay Son rebels in 1777, he found refuge
on PhuQuocIsland, where Monsignor Pierre Pigneau de
Behaine of the Society of Foreign Missions directed a seminary for youths
from neighbouring countries. The bishop persuaded him to seek help from King
Louis XVI of France.
King Canh Thinh knew that Nguyen Anh received support from the
French missionary and worried that the Vietnamese Catholics would also
endorse his reign. He began to restrict the practice of Catholicism in the
country. On August 17, 1798, King Canh Thinh issued an
anti-Catholic edict and an order to destroy all Catholic churches and
seminaries. A most grievous persecution of Vietnamese Catholics and
missionaries began and lasted until 1886. Even after Nguyen Anh succeeded in
reclaiming his throne as King Gia Long (1802-1820), his successors, King Minh
Mang (1820-1840), King Thieu Tri (1841-1847) and King Tu Duc (1847-1884), the
last Nguyen Emperor, continued the vehement campaign against Catholics,
ordering punishments that ranged from branding their faces to death by
various cruel methods for Vietnamese Catholics and missionary priests.
was amidst this great suffering that the Lady of La Vang came to the people
of Vietnam. The name La Vang was believed to be
originated in the name of the deep forest in the central region of Vietnam (now known as QuangTriCity) where there was an abundance of a
kind of trees named La Vang. It was also said that its name came from the
Vietnamese meaning of the word "Crying Out" to denote the cries for
help of people being persecuted.
The first apparition of the Lady of La Vang was noted in 1798,
when the persecution of Vietnamese Catholics began. Many Catholics from the
nearby town of Quang Tri sought refuge in the deep forest of La Vang. A great number of these people
suffered from the bitter cold weather, lurking wild beasts, jungle sickness
and starvation. At night, they often gathered in small groups to say the
rosary and to pray. Unexpectedly, one night they were visited by an
apparition of a beautiful Lady in a long cape, holding a child in her arms,
with two angels at her sides. The people recognized the Lady as Our Blessed
Blessed Mother comforted them and told them to boil the leaves from the
surrounding trees to use as medicine. She also told them that from that day
on, all those who came to this place to pray would get their prayers heard and
answered. This took place on the grass area near the big ancient banyan tree
where the refugees were praying. All those who were present witnessed this
miracle. After this first apparition, the Blessed Mother continued to appear
to the people in this same place many times throughout the period of nearly
one hundred years of religious persecution. Among many groups of Vietnamese
Catholics that were burnt alive because of their faith was a group of 30
people who were seized after they came out of their hiding place in the forest of La Vang. At their request, they were taken
back to the little chapel of La Vang and were immolated there on its ground.
the time the Lady of La Vang first appeared, the people who took refuge there
erected a small and desolate chapel in her honour. During the following
years, her name was spread among the people in the region to other places.
Despite its isolated location in the high mountains, groups of people
continued to find ways to penetrate the deep and dangerous jungle to pray to
the Lady of La Vang. Gradually, the pilgrims that came with axes, spears,
canes, and drums to scare away wild animals were replaced by those holding
flying flags, flowers and rosaries. The pilgrimages went on every year
despite the continuous persecution campaigns.
1886, after the persecution had officially ended, Bishop Gaspar ordered a
church to be built in honour of the Lady of La Vang. Because of its
precarious location and limited funding, it took 15 years for the completion
of the church of La Vang. It was inaugurated by Bishop Gaspar
in a solemn ceremony that participated by over 12,000 people and lasted from
August 6th to 8th, 1901. The bishop proclaimed the Lady of La Vang as the
Protectorate of the Catholics. In 1928, a larger church was built to
accommodate the increasing number of pilgrims. This church was destroyed in
the summer of 1972 during the Vietnam war.
history of the Lady of La Vang continues to gain greater significance as more
claims from people whose prayers were answered were validated. In April of
1961, the Council of Vietnamese Bishops selected the holy church of La Vang as the National Sacred Marian
Centre. In August of 1962, Pope John XXIII elevated the church of La Vang to The Basilica of La Vang. On June
19, 1988, Pope John Paul II in the canonizing ceremony of the 117 Vietnamese
martyrs, publicly and repeatedly recognized the importance and significance
of the Lady of La Vang and expressed a desire for the rebuilding of the La
Vang Basilica to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the first apparition of
the Lady of La Vang in August of 1998.
Etienne Nguyen Nhu The of Hue, Viet Nam
1. On the occasion of the closure of the Marian
Year and the 25th three-yearly pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of La Vang,
I join through prayer the Vietnamese faithful and pilgrims who have entrusted
themselves to the motherly intercession of the Virgin Mary, asking this most
holy Mother to guide the Catholic Church in Viet Nam on her journey to the
Lord, and to help her in the witness she must bear on the threshold of the
"For 2,000 years, the Church has been the cradle in which
Mary places Jesus and entrusts him to the adoration and contemplation of all
peoples" (Bull of Induction of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000,
Incarnationis mysterium, n. 11), who never tire of calling upon the Mother of
all mercy. People always find shelter and courage under her protection. In
fact, Mary "shines forth on earth ... a sign of certain hope and comfort
to the pilgrim People of God" (Lumen gentium, n. 68) in the midst of the
difficulties of this world. She is the mother of the pilgrimChurch to which she continues to give
birth, constantly inviting people to accept God’s promise as she did and,
with the help of the Holy Spirit, to be Gospel missionaries.
2. By enrolling in her school, especially on the
threshold of the Great Jubilee, when they will be called to an ever deeper
conversion, the faithful will assert their faith, be more attentive to the
Word of God and will be available for their brothers and sisters. For all
Christ’s disciples, Mary is the model par excellence of Christian life. She
prepares our hearts to receive Christ, instructing us, just as she did the
servants at the wedding at Cana, to do whatever he tells us (cf. Jn
2:5). She invites us to reach out to those who need our help, as she herself
did with her cousin Elizabeth (cf. Lk -45). Thus from our beloved Mother we
receive a "taste" of the encounter with God and the mission among
our brethren, which are the two aspects of Christian love.
When we turn to Mary our hope is revived. Indeed, she is a
part of our humanity, and in her we contemplate the glory God promises to
those who respond to his call. I therefore invite the faithful to put their trust
in our common Mother, often invoked under the title Star of the Sea, so that,
amid the storms of sin and the sometimes painful events of history, they will
remain firmly anchored to Christ and bear witness to his love.
"Following her, you will never lose your way; imploring her, you will
never know despair; thinking of her, you will avoid all errors. With her
support, you will not fall; with her protection, you will have nothing to
fear; under her guidance, you will never be tired; thanks to her favour, you
will reach the goal" (St Bernard, Second Homily on the Gospel passage:
"The Angel Gabriel was sent").
3. In going to the Shrine of Our Lady of La Vang,
so dear to the hearts of the Vietnamese faithful, pilgrims entrust to her
their joys and their sorrows, their hopes and their sufferings. In this way
they turn to God and make themselves intercessors for their families and for
their entire people asking the Lord to instil sentiments of peace,
brotherhood and solidarity in the hearts of all men and women, so that all
the Vietnamese will be every day more closely united, in order to build a
world in which it is pleasant to live, based on the essential spiritual and
moral values and where each person can be recognized in his dignity as a
child of God, and turn freely and with filial love to his Father in heaven
who is "rich in mercy" (Eph 2:4).
4. I am particularly close to you in my thoughts at
this time when the Church in your country is honouring the Mother of the
Saviour; I entrust you to the intercession of Our Lady of La Vang and
cordially impart to you and all your pastors an affectionate Apostolic
Blessing, which I extend to the pilgrims who will visit the shrine in the
spirit of the Jubilee and to all the Catholic faithful in Viet Nam.
From all eternity, together with the
Incarnation of the divine Word, the Blessed Virgin was predestined to be the Mother
of God. By the will of divine Providence, she was the loving mother of the divine Redeemer here
on earth, and above all others in a unique way she was the willing partner
and the humble handmaid of the Lord. She conceived, brought forth and
nourished Christ. She presented Him to the Father in the temple, and shared
the suffering of His Son as He died on the cross. In an utterly singular way
she co-operated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the
Saviour’s work of restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she
is a mother to us in the order of grace.
This motherhood of Mary in the order
of grace began with the consent which she gave in faith at the Annunciation
and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross; it will last
without interruption until the eternal fulfilment of all the elect. Once
assumed into heaven, she did not set aside this saving role, but with her
numerous prayers of intercession continues to win for us the gifts of eternal
By her maternal charity, Mary cares
for the brethren of her Son who still wander through this world in the midst
of dangers and difficulties until they are led to the happiness of their
The Second Vatican Council
The Constitution on the Church
O Mary, Star of the Sea, light of every
ocean, guide seafarers across all dark and stormy seas that they may reach
the haven of peace and light prepared in Him who calmed the sea.
As we set forth upon the oceans of
the world and cross the deserts of our time, show us, O Mary, the fruit of
your womb, for without your Son we are lost.
Pray that we will never fail on
life's journey, that in heart and mind, in word and deed, in days of turmoil
and in days of calm, we will always look to Christ and say, "Who is this
that even wind and sea obey him?" Bright Star of the Sea, guide us!
The Virgin Mary as ‘Mother of Refugees’
is being honoured in new Knights of Columbus prayer program
By Tim S. Hickey (Knights of Columbus: COLUMBIA, May 2005)
In the Lenten
meditations he prepared for Pope John Paul II and Vatican officials in 2000,
the late Vietnamese Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan described the
Blessed Virgin Mary as the “Mother of unity who embraces all of her children
dispersed throughout the world.”
The Mother of Jesus, he said, “reveals the Marian profile of
the Church, a family Church, a fraternal Church that is welcoming and solidly
united. With Mary, we feel as brothers and sisters among ourselves.”
On Feb. 11, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Marian profile of the Church
and of the Knights of Columbus was especially evident at Holy
Martyrs of Vietnam Parish in Arlington, Va. More than 700 parishioners and
members of Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Council 9655 helped launch a new
program honouring Mary under her title Our Lady of Bai Dau.
The centrepiece of the program is a 2-foot-tall statue of Our
Lady of Bai Dau. It was welcomed to the parish by Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington, a member of Cathedral Council 6790
in Arlington. Through the remainder of 2005 and
into 2006, the statue will make a pilgrimage to several U.S. and Canadian jurisdictions where a
Marian prayer service will be led by local Knights and Vietnamese Catholics.
A Mass and Marian program in the spring of 2006 in Washington, D.C., will officially conclude the
Lady of Bai Dau has special meaning to many Vietnamese Catholics. In the
coastal city of Vung Tau, near SaiGonCity, there is a shrine dedicated to her.
The shrine features a 65-foot-tall statue of Mary holding aloft the Infant
Jesus, as if she is presenting him to the world. After the fall of Saigon to
the Communists in 1975, as tens of thousands of Vietnamese fled their
homeland by boat from Vung Tau, the statue of Our Lady of Bai Dau was the
last image many of them had of their homeland. She is honoured as “Mother of
statue being used in the pilgrimage was given to District of Columbia Knights
by the bishops of Vietnam following a November 2003 visit to Washington, where they were special guests at
the fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
State Deputy Charles H. Gallina, a retired U.S. Marine colonel who served four tours
in Vietnam, met with the bishops and arranged
for transportation and hospitality during their stay. At the end of their
visit, Bishop Paul Nguyen Van Hoa, president of the Vietnamese bishops’
conference, presented the Knights with the statue as a show of gratitude.
The D.C. Knights presented the statue to Supreme Knight Carl
A. Anderson earlier this year for the Knights of ColumbusMuseum in New Haven. At the conclusion of the
pilgrimage, the statue will again be displayed in the museum.
OF THE EUCHARIST REFLECTION
to the Feb. 11 Mass, the statue of Our Lady of Bai Dau was placed on a
flowered platform and carried aloft by Knights around the parish grounds. A
14-member Fourth Degree honour guard led the procession behind a Knight
beating a small Asian hand drum. The Dominican priests who staff Holy Martyrs
of Vietnam Parish led the faithful in prayers
and songs to Mary. Also taking part was Supreme Treasurer Deacon Kenneth N.
Dominican Father John Baptist Vuong Duc Nguyen, pastor, helped
write the prayer book and develop the program. Auxiliary Bishop Dominic Mai
Luong of the Diocese of Orange in California has also contributed to the
program’s development. Bishop Luong is the first bishop of Vietnamese descent
in the U.S. Church.
a message printed in Vietnamese in the booklet, Bishop Luong thanked the
Knights for spearheading this program. “The Holy Martyrs of VietnamChurch in Arlington is doing us a favour by inviting Our
Lady of Bai Dau to the various Vietnamese Catholic communities around the
country,” he wrote. “May Jesus, through the intercession of Our Lady, grant
many blessings to all who participate in this pilgrimage to honour our Lord
and Our Lady of Bai Dau.”
In his homily, Bishop Loverde said Our Lady of Bai Dau shows
Mary as the “Mother of God, presenting Jesus to the world.” Her role “is to
give us the greatest gift that God the Father could give us: his own Son to
be our saviour.”
During the Year of the Eucharist now under way, Bishop Loverde
said, we should listen closely to the words Mary spoke at the wedding feast
of Cana when she instructed the wine stewards to follow Jesus’ lead and “Do
whatever he tells you” (cf. John 2:1-12).
“We rejoice that we can listen to our mother’s advice and we
pledge that we will truly listen and do what he tells us. He tells us to be
united to him in the Eucharist. He tells us to believe in the Good News of
the Gospel of salvation. He tells us to go forth in the real world and be his
presence for a Church renewed,” Bishop Loverde said.
As the Our Lady of Bai Dau pilgrimage begins, he said, it is
an opportunity for the faithful to walk with Mary on their way to heaven.
“One day, at our journey’s end, we will see not a statue of Mary holding out
Jesus to us. We will see Mary herself pointing out to us Jesus, our saviour.”
A MARIAN MISSION
N. Nguyen, financial secretary of Council 9655, is helping coordinate the Our
Lady of Bai Dau pilgrimage. He said that the inaugural Mass and prayer
service was a “moving moment” for the Knights and families of the Holy
Martyrs of Vietnam community.
“Our mission has just begun,” said Nguyen. “We want to glorify
our beloved mother, Our Lady of Bai Dau.”
Nguyen said he believed the pilgrimage program “is a great way
to introduce the Knights of Columbus to other Vietnamese Catholics in the
United States, Canada and in Vietnam.” News about the pilgrimage is being
featured on at least two Vietnamese Catholic Web sites.
State Deputy Gallina agreed. “From my experience the
Vietnamese are a very spiritual people. The Knights of Columbus can offer these men an opportunity
to express further their Catholic faith, and Our Lady of Bai Dau can help us.
me personally, as a Vietnam veteran, I have a very special love
and respect for the Vietnamese people. It is important for me to do anything
I can do through the Knights to help foster and spread the Catholic faith and
the Order through the rosary and prayer.”
MESSENGER OF HOPE AND FREEDOM
Thu Bui, one of the founding members of Holy Martyrs of
Vietnam Council, said he and his wife had recently visited Vietnam and paid their respects to Mary at
the Our Lady of Bai Dau Shrine in Vung Tau. “It is an honour to welcome her
over here,” he said.
many of us were leaving our homeland, fleeing the Communists in our leaky
boats, she was on the hill looking out for us,” said Bui.
immigrants, all boat people, anyone escaping repression can find hope and freedom
in Our Lady of Bai Dau. She is the hope for the whole world.”
The 117 Martyrs of Vietnam
- Andrea Dung-Lac
- Tommaso Thien and Emanuele Phung
- Girolamo Hermosilla
- Valentino Berrio Ochoa, O.P. and 6 Bishops
- Teofano Venard and 105 companions (+1745-1862)
19 JUNE 1988, Saint Peter's Square by Pope John Paul II
Hierarchy of the Roman Catholic
The College of
Cardinals meets in a conclave to elect the new pope. The cardinals,
appointed by the previous popes, serve as the pope's principal counsellors.
Pope: Elected by College of Cardinals.
Cardinal:Chosen by pope, usually
from among the bishops.
Highest-ranking bishop, heads archdiocese or province.
Bishop: Heads diocese (territory that
includes a large number of parishes).
Monsignor: An honorary
Pastor: Head of a community parish:
administers sacraments, preaches, blesses, and guides the faithful.
Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man,
Archbishop of SaiGonCity (Viet Nam), was born in 1934 in Hoa Thanh, Ca Mau, Vietnam. He was ordained a priest on 25 May 1965.
Following ordination, Cardinal Pham
Minh Man was a teacher at the Minor Seminary of Beato Quy in Cai Rang (Can
Tho). In 1975, due to the radical change of political system in South Vietnam, the Church underwent persecution and the seminaries were
closed or confiscated by the State. During this period, Cardinal Pham Minh
Man was made responsible for the formation of priests. In 1988, when six
major seminaries in Vietnam were again opened, he was appointed as rector of the Seminary
of Santo Quy in Cai Rang, and had to face numerous difficulties, including a
lack of professors.
On 22 March 1993 he was nominated Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of My Tho
with the right of succession, and was ordained on 11 August. On 1 March 1998 he was nominated Archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City.
Created and proclaimed Cardinal by
John Paul II in the consistory of 21 October 2003, of the Title of St. Justin.
Cardinal Paul Joseph Pham Dinh Tung,
Archbishop emeritus of Ha Noi (Viet Nam), was born on 15 June 1919 in Binh-Hoa, in the Diocese of Phat Diem. Ordained to the
priesthood on 6 June 1949, he was named Bishop of Bac Ninh on 5 April 1963 and received his Episcopal ordination on 15 August that year.
He was called to assume the role of
Apostolic Administrator of Ha Noi on 18 June 1990, after the death of Cardinal Joseph Trinh Van Can on 18 May.
On 23 March 1994, he was appointed Archbishop of Ha Noi.
He formed councils of lay people in
the parishes, their number varying according to the importance of the
parishes, to be responsible for the continuation of religious life in the
local communities and provide a three-year marriage course for the young
Another initiative promoted by the
former Bishop Pham Dinh Tung was the foundation of a secular institute for
boys and girls for the purpose of training them as catechists. The initiative
has had excellent results and these young catechists, travelling all over the
country guaranteeing catechetical courses everywhere, especially to children.
The results of this work of
evangelization were demonstrated in a Jubilee Year proclaimed to mark the
centenary of Bac Ninh Cathedral's foundation. The celebrations began on 8 December 1992 and ended exactly a year later. It was recorded that more
than 30 thousand faithful visited the mother church of the Diocese.
In 1990, John Paul II promoted the
Bishop to Ha Noi, first as Apostolic Administrator and subsequently on 23 March 1994 as Archbishop.
Created and proclaimed Cardinal by
Pope John Paul II in the Consistory of 26 November 1994, of the Title of St. Mary Queen of Peace in Ostia.
Weeping Virgin Mary is hailed as miracle
Red stains are seen running from the left
eye of a statue of the Virgin Mary at the Vietnamese Catholic Martyrs Church
in Sacramento, California.
According to Anthony Nguyen, a deacon
at the church, the stains first appeared more than a week ago, but they were
wiped away. The stains reappeared a week later. Visitors have been flocking
to the church to see what many are calling a miracle.
Initially, priests at the church
thought that the red stain down the face of the statue was just a prank, but
once they washed the 'tears' away more returned the following weekend. - The
Universe newspaper, Sunday December 11, 2005.
Archbishop Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan received his
Cardinal hat from the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II in Rome on 21st February 2001.
the late Vietnamese Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan
1928 - 2002
will live the present moment to the fullest.
will discern between God and God's works.
will hold firmly to one secret: prayer.
will see in the Holy Eucharist my only power.
will have only one wisdom: the science of the Cross.
will remain faithful to my mission in the Church and for the Church as a
witness of Jesus Christ.
will seek the peace the world cannot give.
will carry out a revolution by renewal in the Holy Spirit.
will speak one language and wear one uniform: Charity.
10.I will have one very special love:
The Blessed Virgin Mary.
AUSTRALIAN BISHOPS HONOUR
Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan
A group of Australian bishops has celebrated an intimate
and moving Mass in honour of Vietnamese Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van
Thuan, whose life of love and hope in the face of extreme adversity made him
one of the most inspiring Church figures of the 20th Century. Cardinal Thuan,
who died in 2002, spent 13 years in prison under the Vietnamese Communist
regime, nine years of that in solitary confinement. His body lies in a Rome
cemetery, in the Chapel of the Canons of St Peter's Basilica. While in prison
he countered the terrible conditions and isolation with a gentle but powerful
spirituality of hope, founded in the message of love of Jesus Christ. After
his release from prison, Cardinal Thuan went on to be appointed as President
of the Pontifical Council for Justice, Development and Peace. He died in
Rome. The Church in Australia has a special link with Cardinal Thuan, whose
102-year-old mother Elizabeth and sister Anne Nguyen Thi Ham-Tieu and family
live in Sydney. A number of the bishops, in Rome on their ad limina visit,
took up the opportunity to honour Cardinal Thuan with Mass for the repose of
his soul. The principal celebrant of the Mass, on the feast of the
Annunciation, was Bishop Peter Ingham of Wollongong. Also concelebrating were
Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop Francis Carroll, Archbishop Philip Wilson,
Bishop Pat Dougherty and Bishop Hilton Deakin.
In his homily, Bishop Ingham said Cardinal Thuan's
enduring message was one of Christian hope. "Francis bore this hope as
any true priest and bishop must," he said.
"He was a gentle man who had such wonderful
strength. ”As we gather today and pray for him and for the repose of his
soul, we pray also for his family who are feeling close to us today, that
this prophetic man will be taken into the joy of heaven and his example will
continue to inspire us to be people of great hope and heart because of Jesus
who has come to us through the womb of the Virgin Mary. "Also attending
the Mass was an aunt of the late Cardinal as well as a small group of
Vietnamese priests and religious in Rome who had known or worked with the