This statue of Our Lady of La Vang, standing in a boat representing Vietnamese refugees escaping persecution by boat, is found outside of St. Louis the King Parish in Glendale. (John Bering/CATHOLIC SUN)
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted incenses a statue of Our Lady of La Vang during the dedication of Vietnamese Martyrs Parish in this April 18, 2010 file photo. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

Aug. 22

Although not formally recognized by the Vatican, Our Lady of La Vang’s to the Vietnamese people importance has been widely recognized.

Fearing the spread of Catholicism, the Cảnh Thịnh emperor restricted the practice of Catholicism in Vietnam in 1798. Soon after, he issued an anti-Catholic edict and a brutal persecution began. 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 of the Blessed Mother dressed in the traditional Vietnamese áo dài, holding the infant Jesus in her arms, and flanked by two angels appeared to them in the branches of the tree. She comforted them and told them to boil leaves from the trees for medicine to cure their illnesses.

In 1802 the Christians 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 went to pray at the site. In 1820, a chapel was built.

She is the patroness of Vietnam and of the Vietnamese Diaspora, including those attending Vietnamese Martyrs Parish, and those who are members of the Vietnamese communities at St. Louis the King Parish in Glendale and Holy Spirit Parish in Tempe.