The statue for the Our Lady of La Vang Shrine arrived Jan. 28 from Italy on the Christ Cathedral campus, where it will be dedicated in October. The carved marble statue, which took a year and a half to create, will stand 18 feet tall. Upon arrival it was greeted by the Very Rev. Christopher Smith, episcopal vicar and rector of Christ Cathedral along with members of the Our Lady of La Vang Shrine Committee.
The shrine project, in progress for the past three years, is expected to be complete in August, with a dedication date set for Oct. 3.
The shrine was designed by architects Aaron Torrence and Trần Quốc Trung, with help from a team of designers. The centerpiece of the shrine will be the statue of Mary, dressed in traditional Vietnamese garments and cradling the infant Jesus. They will stand beneath an up-swirl of Alpha-shaped ribbons of stainless-steel panels, under a glass-paned roof. There will also be a plaza, four Rosary gardens, including one that has the shape of the Greek letter Omega, as well as room for future statuary honoring Mary.
“In my time as Bishop of the Diocese of Orange, I have been inspired by the faith and energy of the Vietnamese people. They truly place faith in God at the heart of all they do,” Bishop Vann said on the day the plans for the shrine were announced. “It is an honor to join them in working to build a fitting monument of their struggles, faith and community here at the center of our diocese.”
Rev. Tuyen Nguyen, pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish, recounted the persecution that Vietnamese endured in Vietnam under an anti-Catholic regime and the apparition in which the Virgin Mary appeared, holding the infant Jesus, and offered hope and healing to the people who fled to La Vang. The shrine is intended to commemorate that apparition and to provide a place for all, including Vietnamese Catholics, to honor Our Lady of La Vang.
The Diocesan Our Lady of La Vang Shrine committee has been tasked with the management of the fundraising, design, construction and events related to the shrine.