In a land area of about 74,195 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers Bolikhamxai, Houaphan, Vientiane and Xiangkhoang provinces, as well as Vientiane capital prefecture.
In the vicariate's area, the population is about 2,417,000 in June 2017, mainly Buddhists. The population of the whole country was estimated at 7 million. Most residents are lowland Lao, with tribal minorities. There are substantial numbers of ethnic Vietnamese and Chinese.
Mainly Lao, but also various ethnic minority dialects are in use.
Till the middle of the 13th century the Lao tribes who had migrated from Southern China accepted Buddhism of the Theravada School as their religion. During the following centuries, Buddhist monks (the Sangha) exercised a strong influence on Laotian society. In popular Buddhism the traditional belief in guardian spirits (phi) and the wide-spread rites of of ancestor veneration mingled with Buddhist beliefs. During the 18th and 19th century, the Kingdom of Laos repeatedly was attacked and dominated by its neighbour Vietnam, but even more by its other neighbouring country, Siam. In 1893 the French entered Laos and turned Laos into a French Protectorate and de facto colony of France. The Laotian kings lost more of their political power, but managed to retain many other privileges.
From 1630 onwards, Catholic missionaries made several attempts to enter the country and to preach the gospel in Laos. Most missionary endeavours, however, remained episodes, because they did not result in the founding of a local Church. The first missionaries were Jesuits who reached Laos from Tongking.
The evangelization efforts of the missionaries of the Paris Foreign Mission Society (M.E.P.), who came to Laos in 1878, were more successful. They succeeded in building up an indigenous Church in Laos. Traditionally, Dec. 8, 1885 is accepted to have been the date of the birth of the Catholic Church in Laos, because on this day the first mission station in the then Kingdom of Laos was founded on the island Ban Dorn Don in the river Mekong.
Since 1935, also Oblate Fathers (OMI) came to Laos and concentrated their missionary work mostly in the tribal areas in the mountains, in the north of the country.
Before, in 1899, the Apostolic Vicariate of Laos was founded, from which in 1950 the Apostolic Prefecture Thakhek was separated which later, in 1958, was raised to an Apostolic Vicariate. At that time, the number of Catholics in Laos had reached 23,764 Catholics. It took a long time, before in 1963 the first indigernous Laotian was ordained to the priesthood.
Thakhek signifies in the Laotian language "landing place of foreigners" and thus keeps the memory alive that the foreign Catholic missioners built there their first mission station, from which further missionary activities were started.
A decade later, in 1974, the first Laotian priest was consecrated a bishop. Between 1952-1967, an ecclesiastical restructuring took place and the Catholic Church in Laos was divided into four Apostolic Vicariates: Vientiane (1952), Luang Prabang (1963), Savannakhet (1963) and Pakse (1967).
The country's main north-south highway runs along the western part of the territory. Paved roads outside town areas are limited. A 3.5-kilometer long meter-gauge rail line belonging to the State Railway of Thailand runs across the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge over the Mekong River. The country's main international airport is in Vientiane. International flights, however, are limited to Bangkok, Hanoi and Kunming. Vientiane is nevertheless the domestic hub of the country.
Tropical monsoon with three seasons -- hot and dry (March-June), rainy (July-October), cool and dry (November-February).
All newspapers are published by the government, including an English-language and a French-language paper.
Mainly hilly and mountainous. The Mekong river runs along the western part of the territory. Picturesque karst limestone formations, one of the biggest in Southeast Asia, are located in Bolikhamxai province. An extensive network of caves in Houaphan province.
Gonsalo's martyrdom at Nagasaki with the other Christian missionaries is regarded as the most tragic and historic event for Catholicism in Japan
Calungsod and his companion Father Vitores baptized infants, children and adults, defying the risk of persecution and murder
Despite being an ordinary layman, Ruiz remained defiant while facing torture by the Japanese and died a brave martyr
He was the first Korean-born Catholic priest and is now the patron saint of Korea
This fabled church is also known by its Syriac name Mar Sleeva (Holy Cross) Church
Asian Catholics who cannot visit famous Our Lady of Lourdes shrine in France can revere miraculous Mother Mary at Velankanni shrine in India. The Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health is popularly known as “the Lourdes of the East” and holds the largest Catholic Church in Asia.
Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica at Fort Kochi is one of the finest churches and a historic but also a landmark in Kerala state of southern India. Santa Cruz Church blends Indo-European and Gothic architectural style that draws tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists every year. The cathedral is a great place of devotion and historic significance that survived colonial conquests and invasions to the city.
Mokama Marian shrine on the southern bank of Ganges River bears the legacy persecuted Nepali Catholics banished from their homeland to India for refusing to renounce their faith. Our Lady of Divine Grace Church at Mokama stands about 90 kilometers from Patna, the capital of eastern Indian state of Bihar. Mother Mary is popularly known as Mokama Mata (Mother of Mokama). The church was built to honor Mary in 1947.
The shrine holds a three-meter-tall, white-stone carved statue Virgin Mary on the Tao Pao Mountain in the Diocese of Phan Thiet in southern Vietnam, about 1,600 kilometers from the national capital Hanoi.
The Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Urakami of Nagasaki is a witness of persecution of Christians from 17th to 19th centuries and deadly atomic bombing during the Second World War. This European-style, red-brick church continues to preserve some relics that survived the atomic bombing. Urakami cathedral, also known as St. Mary’s Cathedral, was almost destroyed when the atomic bomb was dropped on Aug. 9, 1945. The church stood about 500 meters from the hypocenter of atomic explosion. The devastation shattered and charred stone-made statues of saints, which were later preserved as relics along with the surviving head of Virgin Mary statue and one of the church’s original bells.
Our Lady of Akita Catholic Church is Yuzawadai is among the most famous churches in Japan. The church shot into global fame thanks to a wooden statue of Blessed Virgin Mary that wept 101 times and Marian apparitions to Japanese nun Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa that miraculously healed her hearing impairment. Japanese wooden sculptor Saburo Wakasa from Akita city carved the now-famous miraculous statue of Virgin Mary in 1963.
The Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception in Seria is a small church on the western Belait district of Brunei, but it shot into fame thanks to the nation’s most famous Catholic – late Cardinal Cornelius Sim. It is also the second of three churches in Brunei dedicated to Virgin Mary. In fact, Mary has a prominent place not only in Christianity, but also in Islam, the dominant faith in Brunei. Holy Quran mentions Mary seventy times and reveres her as the greatest woman to have ever lived.