|Our Lady of La Vang|
|Location||La Vang, Vietnam|
|Date||17 August 1798|
|Approval||Not officially recognized by the Holy See|
|Shrine||Basilica of Our Lady of La Vang, Vietnam|
|Patronage||Vietnamese Catholics, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Huế|
|Feast day||August 15 |
August 27 (Huế Archdiocese)
|http://www.stripes.com/blogs/archive-photo-of-the-day/archive-photo-of-the-day-1.9717/damaged-cathedral-in-vietnam-1972-1.146467 War damage to Our Lady of La Vang church, July 7, 1972. Source: Stars and Stripes.|
Our Lady of La Vang (Vietnamese: Đức Mẹ La Vang; French: Notre-Dame de La Vang) refers to a reported Marian apparition at a time when Catholics were persecuted and killed in Vietnam. The Shrine of our Lady of La Vang (Basilica of Our Lady of La Vang) is situated in what is today Hai Phu commune in Hải Lăng District of Quảng Trị Province in Central Vietnam.
Fearing the spread of Catholicism, the Cảnh Thịnh Emperor restricted the practice of Catholicism in the country in 1798. Soon thereafter, the emperor issued an anti-Catholic edict and persecution ensued.
Many people sought refuge in the rainforest of La Vang in Quảng Trị Province, Vietnam, and many became very ill. While hiding in the jungle, the community gathered every night at the foot of a tree to pray the rosary. One night, an apparition surprised them. In the branches of the tree a lady appeared, wearing the traditional Vietnamese áo dài dress and holding a child in her arms, with two angels beside her. The people present interpreted the vision as the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus Christ. They said that Our Lady comforted them and told them to boil leaves from the trees for medicine to cure the illness. Legend states that the term "La Vang" was a derivative of the Vietnamese word meaning "crying out". Another hypothesis is that La Vang is distorted from the toponym Lá Vằng, lá meaning leaf and vằng meaning jasminum subtriplinerve, a tree species whose leaves are used to made a tisane; according to an ancient practice, a location was sometimes named after a prominent local species of plant or animal.
In 1802 the Catholics returned to their villages, passing on the story of the apparition in La Vang and its message. As the story of the apparition spread, many came to pray at this site and to offer incense. In 1820, a chapel was built.
From 1830 to 1885 another wave of persecutions decimated the Catholic population, during the height of which the chapel in honour of Our Lady of La Vang was destroyed. In 1886, construction on a new chapel began. Following its completion, Bishop Gaspar (Loc) consecrated the chapel in honour of Our Lady Help of Christians, in 1901.
On December 8, 1954, the statue of Our Lady of La Vang was brought from Tri Bun back to the holy shrine. The Vietnamese Bishops Conference chose the church of Our Lady of La Vang as the National Shrine in honour of the Immaculate Conception. La Vang became the National Marian Center of Vietnam on April 13, 1961. Pope John XXIII elevated the Church of Our Lady of La Vang to the rank of a minor basilica on August 22, 1961.
Though there is no official Vatican recognition of this event as a Marian apparition, on June 19, 1998, Pope John Paul II publicly recognized the importance of Our Lady of La Vang and expressed desire to rebuild the La Vang Basilica in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the first vision.
In the Philippines, the Our Lady of La Vang Church at Viet Ville, Barangay Santa Lourdes in Puerto Princesa City in Palawan. Our Lady of La Vang has become a patroness of Puerto Princesa and patroness of Palawan. She was known as Inang Lala (Mother Lala).