Our Lady of Tà Pao Marian shrine is one of Vietnam’s most popular Catholic pilgrim sites that survived abandonment and damages during the Vietnam War.
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.
Also known as Notre Dame de Tà Pao in French, the statue is among five Marian statues installed across the country in 1959. Tao Pao shrine was opened to the public on Jan. 30, 1975.
The shrine was abandoned during the Vietnam War, and it started attracting pilgrims again only after 1980.
The statue was damaged due to a lack of maintenance during the long abandonment. It was repaired thanks to an initiative by Father Dinh Tan Thoi.
With permission from Bishop Huynh Nicholas Van Nghi of Phan Thiet, sculptor Le Phat from Xuan Loc diocese carried out the repair and restoration work of the statue. The renovated statue was opened to the public on Aug. 1, 1991.
The main statue of Our Lady of Tà Pao in Vietnam is pictured in this undated photo. (Photo: Facebook)
The statue shot into fame in 1999 thanks to an alleged Marian apparition to three students. The students from nearby Phuong Lam town witnessed Our Lady flying across Tà Pao Mountain on Sept. 29, 1999, the feast day of Archangel Gabriel, according to local people.
The news of the apparition spread like wildfire to the rural interiors of Vietnam, resulting in an influx of thousands of pilgrims.
This prompted the church authorities to build a shrine at Tà Pao in 2007 with permission from the local government. The opening of the shrine coincided with the 90th anniversary of the Marian apparitions to three peasant children in 1917 in Fatima, Portugal.
About 60,000 people attended the inauguration Mass presided over by Bishop Paul Nguyen Thanh Hoan of Phan Thiet diocese.
The Tà Pao shrine also features a 300-meter-long flight of 492 stairs that lead up to the top. Located near the Marian statue is a 200 square meter platform to celebrate Mass.
Every year, thousands of people visit the shrine. Many have claimed the statue has miraculous power that resulted in the renewal of faith, conversions, family reconciliations, and recovery from illnesses.
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