UCA News

Vietnam diocese begins sainthood cause of pioneering bishop

The formal opening of diocesan inquiry of French Bishop Piere Lambert de la Motte (1624-1679) was held on Jan. 13
Around 20,000 people attended the opening of the diocesan inquiry of French Bishop Piere Lambert de la Motte in the Our Lady of Ta Pao Center on Jan. 13

Around 20,000 people attended the opening of the diocesan inquiry of French Bishop Piere Lambert de la Motte in the Our Lady of Ta Pao Center on Jan. 13. (Photo courtesy of hdgmvietnam.com)

Published: January 15, 2024 10:56 AM GMT
Updated: January 15, 2024 12:47 PM GMT

Phan Thiet diocese has started the beatification and sainthood cause of Vietnam Church's first bishop for his contribution to building sound foundations for organized missionary work in the nation.

The formal opening of the diocesan inquiry, the primary step for canonization, of French Bishop Piere Lambert de la Motte (1624-1679) was held in the Our Lady of Ta Pao Center in the south-central province of Binh Thuan on Jan. 13.

Bishop Joseph Do Manh Hung of Phan Thiet presided over as some 20,000 Catholics attended the event, which coincided with the 50th anniversary of Phan Thiet diocese's establishment.

Bishop Lambert “had unusual virtues and made huge contributions to the Church in Vietnam at the beginning,” Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh of Hue said in his homily.

Linh said Lambert, the first prelate of Cochinchine including Southern Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and part of China, laid solid foundations for the indigenous clergy and established the Lovers of the Holy Cross Congregation and lay associations for local women. 

“The Catholic Church in Vietnam could not secure what it has today without Lambert’s contributions,” the former head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam said.

The church has 27 dioceses with over 50 bishops alive, 4,000 priests, and 10,000 Lovers of the Holy Cross nuns, he added.

Present at the ceremony were Bishop Joseph Chusak Sirisut, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand, Bishop John Baptist Jung Shin-chul of Incheon in South Korea, Father Etienne Frécon, vicar general of the Foreign Missions of Paris (MEP), and 15 local bishops.

The diocesan board of inquiry includes the bishop, Vicar General Father Joseph Ho Si Huu serving as an episcopal delegate, Father John Baptist Nguyen Hong Uy as the promoter of justice, Father Peter Nguyen Quoc Viet, and Lovers of the Holy Cross Sister Martha Nguyen Thi My Hanh as notary and copyist, respectively.

Lambert is considered one of the four co-founders of MEP, the prime missionary congregation that served the region since 1660.

Dominican Father Jerome Bui Thien Thao, postulator for the sainthood cause, said Lambert devoted himself to evangelization in his diocese.

Thao said the French bishop and other missionaries were based in Ayutthaya in Thailand and trained priestly candidates from Vietnam and other places to govern the local churches. They offered priestly guidelines to local clergy and sent foreign missionaries to serve local Catholics.

He said Lambert signed all his properties over to training priests in Vietnam and providing pastoral care to local people.

Despite religious persecution in Vietnam, Lambert only paid three pastoral visits from 1669 to 1676 to Dang Trong and Dang Ngoai (North Vietnam), which was run by Bishop François Pallu, due to religious persecution by local authorities.

He administered the Confirmation to 10,000 local people and baptized many others. The vicariate of Dang Trong then was home to 60,000 Catholics including some 100 martyrs.

“He had a creative vision in orienting the local church, ordaining priests for Vietnamese people, and establishing the Lovers of the Holy Cross congregation, which demonstrates his enthusiasm for spreading the Good News,” Thao said.

He ordained 15 Vietnamese priests before he died on June 15, 1679, in Ayutthaya and was buried in St. Joseph Church.

Lovers of the Holy Cross communities are found in Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Taiwan, Japan, France, Germany, Norway, Italy, and the United States.

Bishop Hung said Lambert died in the territory of Bangkok Archdiocese so Cardinal Archbishop Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij of Bangkok transferred the competence for the case of Lambert to him in May 2020.

He said two urns containing Bishop Lambert's bones, teeth, and limbs are placed at an old chapel in the compound of St. Joseph Major Seminary in Ho Chi Minh City and the Assumption of Mary Cathedral in Qui Nhon, the capital of Binh Dinh province, for Catholics to visit, honor, pray and appeal to their first bishop.

Vietnam bishops decided to open the cause for the canonizations of Bishops Lambert and Francoise Pallu in 2018.

Archbishop Joseph Vu Van Thien of Hanoi began the sainthood cause of Pallu on Oct. 29, 2023.

Born in 1624 in an aristocratic family with seven siblings in Lisieux, Lambert received a first-class education and worked as a judge when he was only 22 years old. He was ordained a priest in 1655 and named the first vicar apostolic of Dang Trong in 1659. He and some priests arrived in Ayutthaya, the former capital of the Kingdom of Siam (Thailand), in 1662.

Help UCA News to be independent
Dear reader,
Trafficking is one of the largest criminal industries in the world, only outdone by drugs and arms trafficking, and is the fastest-growing crime today.
Victims come from every continent and are trafficked within and to every continent. Asia is notorious as a hotbed of trafficking.
In this series, UCA News introduces our readers to this problem, its victims, and the efforts of those who shine the light of the Gospel on what the Vatican calls “these varied and brutal denials of human dignity.”
Help us with your donations to bring such stories of faith that make a difference in the Church and society.
A small contribution of US$5 will support us continue our mission…
William J. Grimm
UCA News
Asian Bishops
Latest News
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia