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Our Lady of La Vang
It is thought that there could be as many as 300,000 Vietnamese Catholic Martyrs, killed through a series of purges and persecutions dating back as far as the 17th Century. In the late 18th Century and early 19th Century, the church in Vietnam was devastated during the Tay Son rebellion and under the Nguyen Dynasty (1802 – 1945). It was around this time of religious persecution that the Virgin Mary made an appearance.
In 1798, a group of Catholics, driven from their homes, were hiding in the forest of La Vang, near the village of Quang Tri. Suffering from starvation, jungle sickness and exposure many of the Christians fell and died, whilst the rest waited for their inevitable capture and martyrdom. However, one night an apparition appeared to this particular group, two angels flanking ‘Our Blessed Mother’ cradling a child. She brought comfort to them and explained how they could make medicine by boiling certain leaves in their vicinity. She also proclaimed that anyone coming and praying at the location of the visitation would have their prayers answered.
At La Vang where the visitation took place a straw chapel was constructed and it became an important site of pilgrimage for Vietnamese Christians despite the continuing persecutions and it said that Mary appeared there on numerous occasions over following hundred years.
Following the end of the persecutions in 1886 and with an increasing number of pilgrims coming to La Vang the chapel soon became too small and underwent several upgrades and rebuilding. The inauguration of the 1901 built church saw 12,000 people participating in the ceremony and in 1924 an even larger church had to built.
On 22 August 1961 by command of Pope John XXIII the church of La Vang was elevated to the Basilica of La Vang.
In 1972 it was destroyed during the Vietnam War.
On the site of the visitation can be found a shrine.