People wait to receive rice donations in front of St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Hanoi, Vietnam, April 27 during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Kham/CNS, via Reuters)
A statue of Our Lady of La Vang and the Christ Child is seen in this CNS file photo at the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in Emmitsburg, Md. (Bob Roller/CNS)

HUE, Vietnam (CNS) — Tens of thousands of Vietnamese Catholics took part in a special online Mass and prayed to Our Lady of La Vang for their nation and the world to soon overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.

Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh of Hue celebrated the Mass, joined by 10 priests at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Vang in Quang Tri province April 26, reported

Most worship places in Vietnam remain in lockdown due to the pandemic, so 19,000 people saw the event livestreamed through Hue Archdiocese’s website, and more than 86,000 others followed it via YouTube, reported.

Archbishop Linh told the congregation that they are human, so they rush to God and Mary when things distress them.

Archbishop Linh, president of the Vietnamese bishops’ conference, said that every day, the world sees thousands of people die from the pandemic; tens of thousands of others become infected, hundreds of health workers wear themselves out or even die from looking after countless patients, and leaders of governments nervously look for ways to stem COVID-19.

People are blaming one another for causing the crisis, with some even abusing it for purely mercenary and exploitative reasons, he said.

Although Vietnam has not been affected by COVID-19 as badly as other countries, the risk of an outbreak and people’s anxiety remain high, Archbishop Linh said. Poor people struggle to put basic food on the table, and churches do not know when they will reopen for normal religious activities, the archbishop added.

“For our inability to deal with the crisis, today we come here to deeply appeal for Our Lady of La Vang to save us from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Archbishop Linh said.

A woman receives a free bag of rice from a volunteer in front of St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Hanoi, Vietnam, April 27 during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Kham/CNS, via Reuters)

The archbishop offered a bouquet of colorful flowers and incense in front of a big statue of Our Lady of La Vang in the rain. He asked participants to stand up and join him in praying for Mary’s intercession.

“We are here like our ancestors in the past to commend our life and all things to Mother, Queen of Peace. Please keep our nation, the Church and the world in peace,” he said.

In 1798, many Catholics gathered in nearby forests to avoid religious persecution. Mary is believed to have appeared many times to console and cure them of diseases.