People flock to tomb of Vietnamese priest

People flock to tomb of Vietnamese priest

2010-04-08 16:21:17
BAC LIEU, Vietnam (UCAN) -- People from various faiths in search of a miracle are flocking to the tomb of a local priest who died to save others 64 years ago. Marie Ta Thi Phot is one such pilgrim to the tomb of Father Francis Xavier Truong Buu Diep, which is located in the compound of Tac Say church in the southern province of Bac Lieu. Phot put five sets of clothing on the tomb and prayed for one son to be cured of his heart disease and for four others to study hard. “I also came here to pray to Father Diep for my daughter who suffers from a spine problem. I need money for her operation,” she said, adding that the operation will cost 70 million dong (US$3,682). Phot said she believes Father Diep is the answer to her prayers after she was cured from a disease after having visited the tomb five times. Father John Baptist Nguyen Thanh Binh, pastor of the church, said 100-200 pilgrims from various faiths visit the tomb to pray and give offerings every day. They even place bottled water and medicine on the tomb, he added. He said tens of thousands of pilgrims throughout the country visit the tomb and mark the anniversary of Father Diep’s death on March 12. Born in 1897 in An Giang province, Father Diep was ordained priest in Phnom Penh in 1924. After he returned to Vietnam, he taught at a local seminary and served as pastor of Tac Say parish for 16 years. He also founded many parishes in the area and helped local poor people regardless of their background. When many people fled to avoid fighting between the French and Viet Minh forces just after World War Two, Father Diep decided to stay with the local people. He and 70 other Catholics were arrested by Viet Minh soldiers on March 12, 1946. He offered his own life in place of the 70 people after hearing that soldiers planned to burn them to death. He was stripped naked, beheaded and his body thrown in a small pool. Father Binh said the church has been rebuilt to hold 700 people and new facilities added for pilgrims in the past five years because of the popularity of the tomb. The tomb itself was restored in early March, he added. Father Binh said many people place food, fruits, candles, money and flowers at the tomb after their prayers come true. Le Thi Hang, a Taoist, said she visits and gives offerings to express her deep gratitude to Father Diep who has blessed her business and family for 10 years. VT09367.1596 April 8, 2010 44 EM-lines (442 words) Women say Mary helped them become pregnant Hue priests urged to set a better example
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