Let us pray for the missions - Msgr Pietro Parolin(shrine of La Vang)

Hue, June 12, 2008 (Vaticans.org) - "Let us pray for the missions": this is the call issued from the shrine of La Vang by Msgr Pietro Parolin, Vatican undersecretary for relations with states, who arrived yesterday at the national Marian shrine in Vietnam.  Speaking to the correspondent for AsiaNews, the prelate spoke of the Church's desire and commitment to work to improve the situation of those who are in need in the country.  "In order to help the people and make our contribution to the progress of Vietnam", he added, "we need to know the reality of the country.  This is a task in which the role of the laity is particularly important, who are able to meet the real needs of the people".  He then emphasised how "the laity in the parish communities are able to work in the sectors of education, health care, and social services for the poor".

The Vatican delegation arrived in the diocese of Hue on the fourth day of its visit to Vietnam.  After meeting with the people's committee of the province of Quang Tri, and the authorities of Hue, it went on pilgrimage to the shrine of La Vang.  This is located in the district of Hai Dang, in the province of Quang Tri, 60 kilometres from the city of Hue.  The Virgin Mary appeared there in 1798, when the country was governed by king Son Tay Canh Thinh, who had ordered the destruction of all the churches and parishes, and the uprooting of the Catholic faith among the people.  In order to escape the royal decree, the Catholics of the provinces of Quang Tri hid in the forests and mountains of La Vang, praying to God and the Virgin Mary to save their lives.  Sheltered beneath the branches of an old tree, they spent entire nights praying and reciting the rosary, asking the Virgin Mary for "help and protection".  Devotion to the Virgin Mary of La Vang is widespread not only among Catholics, but also among the faithful of other religions, including Buddhists and Protestants, who pray to her to obtain special graces.


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