the Marian Shrine of Tra Kieu is one of religious destinations in Quang Nam province
A diocese in central Vietnam is restoring its main religious sites so as to welcome prospective tourists from other places.
“We have been restoring the main local historical sites and facilities so as to introduce them to tourist visitors who are expected to come to the diocese this year,” said Bishop Joseph Chau Ngoc Tri of Da Nang.
The Vietnam government declared 2011 National Tourism Year in Da Nang city and the central coastal provinces of Binh Dinh, Binh Thuan, Khanh Hoa, Ninh Thuan, Quang Nam and Quang Ngai.
Bishop Tri said 100,000 tourists from throughout Vietnam and overseas are expected to visit the city. Many are Catholics who will visit the local Church’s historical sites.
“This is a special occasion for us to tell tourists of the local Church life and activities,” he said. The diocese covers Da Nang city and Quang Nam province.
The bishop said five large statues of Mother Mary and Jesus have been erected in a flower garden in the compound of the Sacred Heart Cathedral near the bishop’s house. The 88-year-old cathedral with neo-Gothic architecture has been newly painted and more lamps and fans installed.
Jacob Tran Vinh Thoai, a Catholic tour guide, is one of 14 local guides who speak English, French and Japanese.
Thoai, 27, said hundreds of tourists from all over the world visit the ancient town of Hoi An where there are some old churches.
Father Anthony Nguyen Truong Thang, head of Hoi An church, said he restored a Marian grotto and tombs of foreign missioners dating back to the 17th century.
Father Thang, 69, said he also restored the shrine of Blessed Andrew of Phu Yen who was killed for his faith in 1615 at Phuoc Kieu parish nearby Hoi An church. His hair is kept at the shrine, the priest noted.
Father Thang said he also petitions government authorities to build a museum named after Da Lo (Vietnamese name of Jesuit Father Alexandre de Rhodes). Father de Rhodes (1593-1660), who arrived in Hoi An in 1624, made a substantial contribution to the romanization of the Vietnamese language or quoc ngu.
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