La Vang Church or Lavang is a locale in Quang Tri Province in the north central region of Vietnam. It is the site of the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of La Vang (Đức Mẹ La Vang), a Roman Catholic sanctuary, commemorating a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary that was seen there in 1798.
The site has been rebuilt on several occasions and is an important site of pilgrimage for Catholics in Vietnam, as well as for the Catholic Overseas Vietnamese community. Many Vietnamese Catholic parishes throughout the world are named for Our Lady of La Vang. This is also an interesting place for travelers to admire the beautiful architecture and find some peace for their soul.
Located 40 kilometers from Hue City, the church refers to a reported Virgin Mary apparition at a time when Catholics were persecuted and killed in Vietnam. The church is highlighted by the Shrine of Our Lady of La Vang (Mother Maria).
The Apparition Shrine, which was the area where Our Lady appeared, had a recent renovation in 2008. Areas surrounding the shrine including the Main Sanctuary Gate, were renovated. The La Vang Boarding House was also recently constructed to accommodate the pilgrims.
Our Lady of La Vang
The tradition of Our Lady of La Vang dates back to the time when Catholics were executed in Vietnam. Many people sought refuge in the rain forest of La Vang, and many became very ill. They were praying when 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.
In 1961, the Catholic bishops of Vietnam selected the Church of La Vang as the National Sacred Marian Centre. In 1962, Pope John XXIII declared the Church the Basilica of La Vang. Though there is no official Vatican recognition of this event as a Marian apparition, on June 19, 1988, 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. But Pope John Paul II affirmed that there has been no documentation in the Vatican of Our Lady’s Apparitions in La Vang.
Coming to the cathedral complex, tourists will see many pilgrims from around the country; they camp busily at the site. The site is surrounded by wind, trees, tranquility and peace.