Tapao – The place Our Lady chose
Under the influences of the
storms number three and four, the tropic atmospheric pressure had
become low which caused heavy rain for more than two weeks in the
Tanh Linh area including Tapao. Despite the bad weather, thousands
of people kept going toward Tapao to participate in the celebration
of laying the first brick for the construction of Our Lady of Tapao.
There were approximately 15,000
people attending the vigil prayer on 12.8, and on 13.8, there were
more than 50,000 people gathered for the celebration of the solemn
Such a large number of people was
beyond the prediction of the organizing committee.
There are three ways to Tapao:
The Cross-road Of The Sixth Base, the Ong Don Cross-road and the Co
All vehicles from Vung Tau, Ham
Tan, Phan Thiet and Nha Trang reached Tapao through The Cross-road
Of The Sixth Base. The Ong Don Cross-road was used for vehicles
from the western provinces, Saigon and Dong Nai. The Co Don
Cross-road was used by all vehicles from the central provinces, Ca
Mau area and from the high plateau.
From 7am on 13.8.2006, the ten
kilometre long road from Tanh Linh and Bac Ruong which leads to the
stage built at the foot of the mountain on which the Statue of Our
Lady was placed, and where the celebration would take place, was
full with the pilgrims.
The heavy rain kept pouring down
yet people kept moving forward.
From 8am, the one hectare area
used for the celebration of Mass was full of people. Others had to
stand on the surrounding roads to attend the Mass through five big
screens. Because of the continuos rain, the level of La Nga River
rose high and overflew its bank reaching the feet of the stage.
At 8am, the faithful prayed the
Rosary. At 9am the procession of Statue of Our Lady of
Tapao reached the stage among the
trumpets and the applauds resounded. Then Bishop Paul Nguyen Thanh
Hoan and 50 Priests stepped on the stage for the con-celebration of
To open the ceremony, father
Andrew Luong Vinh Phuc, the Administrator of Phan Thiet Diocese,
read out the statement of the Committee of People of Binh Thuan
Province in which, they approved Phan Thiet Diocese’s project for
the reconstruction of the shrine of Our Lady of Tapao.
Then father John Baptist Hoang
Van Khanh, chief of the organization narrated the history of Our
Lady of Tapao in summary. He said:
“Today, 13.8.2006, Bishop Paul
Nguyen Thanh Hoan of Phan Thiet Diocese celebrates the Mass of
laying the first brick for the construction of Our Lady of Tapao in
Duc Tanh, Phan Thiet Diocese. This is the ideal opportunity for us
to have a brief description about Our Lady of Tapao under two
aspects: The origin of the statue of Our Lady of Tapao, and Our Lady
of Tapao phenomenon.
origin of the statue of Our Lady of Tapao:
Our Lady of Tapao is one of five
statues of Our Lady which were placed from the Central to the South
and at the High Plateau of the Central Area of Viet Nam in 1959.
On 8.12.1959, Monsignor Marcello
Piquet, Bishop of Nha Trang Diocese, together with many Priests,
Religious and thousands of the faithful, celebrated and sanctified
the statue of Our Lady of Tapao. This was a solemn and national
From 1964 to 1975, the whole area
of Bac Ruong was under the control of the provisory revolutional
power of the Republic of South Viet Nam. So most of the faithful
moved to the South of La Nga River and other places. Hence the
statue was not taken care of and was almost forgotten.
After 1975, and roughly in
October 1980, some faithful who lived in the new economic areas of
Duc Tan and Huy Khiem villages wanted to find the place where Our
Lady of Tapao was located. At Easter of 1989, some of the faithful
of Nghi Duc and Huy Khiem Parishes secretly climbed up to the
mountain to visit the statue of Our Lady. They discovered the head,
arms and feet of Our Lady were seriously damaged.
In late June 1991, and on the
feast of Saints Peter and Paul, with the permission of the Monsignor
Nicolas Huynh Van Nghi, Bishop of Phan Thiet Diocese at that time,
and were encouraged by father Francisco Savie Dinh Tan Thoi, the
Parish Priest of Duy Can (now is Gia An), these people came and
asked the sculptor Le Phat to repair it. The work was finished on
30.7.1991. From this day, the statue of Our Lady stands bulkily on
Tapao mountain, in Tanh Linh District, Binh Thuan Province, where
everybody can revere and be blessed by Our Lady of Tapao.
phenomenon of Our Lady of Tapao:
The phenomenon started with the
story of three pupils at Phuong Lam who claimed that they had seen
Our Lady appearing, and then moving in the air to the other side of
the mountain. On 29.9.1999, the feast of the Archangels, a group of
the faithful of Phuong Lam Perisher and of the Perishers nearby went
to the border of Phuong Lam and Tanh Linh to contemplate at the
statue of Our Lady on the mountain. Many people claimed they have
witnessed the phenomena. Later on, people from Doc Mo, Gia Kiem, Ho
Nai, and Saigon made pilgrimage to Tapao mountain to venerate Our
Lady of Tapao too.
To the early year of 2000, the
rumour about Our Lady of Tapao has attracted many people from
everywhere, so they wished to come there to venerate and pray to Our
Lady. There were many reports from people who claimed that they
have obtained great graces from God through Our Lady. Many sinners
came back to God; people lined up for confession; families at
breaking point were reunited; the sorrowful were comforted; those
that despaired gained back hope…People also received physical grace,
A female Vietnamese American who
suffered from cancer that had reached the last stage. There was no
hope in science, since it became incurable. So she thought about
Our Lady of Tapao, and she decided to come back to Viet Nam and made
the pilgrimage to Tapao Mountain. Here she made repentance and
prayed fervently to Our Lady of Tapao. When she came back to
American, she felt her health improving gradually. She then went to
the hospital for a detailed check. The result showed that her
cancer had disappeared. Everyone was very surprised. Her faith had
The second case was a couple at
Tu Te, Duc Linh where the husband was a pagan but his wife was a
devout Catholic. The husband showed hostility toward religion. He
often scolded his wife and criticized openly each time she went to
Church or prayed…Unfortunately, he soon suffered a critical and
incurable disease. He told his wife to pray to Our Lady of Tapao
for him and he was cured mysteriously. Shocked by this event, he
decided to convert to Catholic.
However, the most marvellous
thing is this: from a remote and unknown area, Our Lady of Tapao has
raisen it into one of the most supernatural places in Viet Nam. Now
it has obtained enough conditions to become a Marian Pilgrimage
Centre among others in Viet Nam, as two Bishops, all members of Phan
Thiet Diocese and millions of pilgrims in Viet Nam and abroad wished
for a long time.
That was the reason for the
solemn Mass to celebrate the laying the first brick for the
construction of Our Lady of Tapao.
To start the Mass, Bishop Paul
Nguyen Thanh Hoan summarized the history of Our Lady of Tapao, and
he mentioned that, besides the theological titles of Our Lady in the
Church such as “Our Lady of Assumption”, “Our Lady, Mediatrix of All
Graces”…, there are also the titles linking to the places She wanted
to appear to Her dear children, such as “Our Lady of Lourdes”, “Our
Lady of Fatima”… In Viet Nam we have “Our Lady of Tra Kieu”, “Our
Lady of La Vang”. And now, we are happy to honour Our Mother with
another title: “Our Lady of Tapao”.
Concerning permission from the
local government, Bishop Paul said that, the civil authorities have
approved the plan that Phan thiet Diocese had submitted, in which we
make a way of 300m in length up to the statue of Our Lady.
Construct a stage of 200m in width.
To conclude, he said, by faith we
had to believe that this work was a gift of Our Mother’s Mercy,
since She wanted to choose this place to meet Her children, so that
She might grant abundant Graces upon us, both in physical and
spiritual ones, and help make our faith stronger.
Though the Mass was said under
heavy rain, all faithful participated in it seriously and fervently
and contemplated on the homily of the Mass.
The homily was followed by the
ceremony of blessing the stage and the first brick. Monsignor John
Baptist Le Xuan Hoa, General Representative of Phan Thiet Diocese,
read out the letter of Bishop Paul Nguyen Thanh Hoan in which he
“approves the plan of construction of Our Lady of Tapao”.
After the Mass, the Priest in
charge of the organization said thanks to all people of God present
to what they have done for the ceremony and for the construction of
Our Lady of Tapao.
This event was extremely
successful despite of the inconvenience caused by the bad weather.
Thanks to Our Mother of Tapao for bestowing abundant Graces upon Her
children. Everyone went home in happiness and gratefulness.
Tapao is not a place chosen by
man. It is Our Mother Herself who chose Tapao, so it will become a
place for Her children from everywhere who gathers here to pray and
receive Graces from God through Our Mother for both physical and
spiritual aspects. Their lives could now be changed and live
according to the Gospel.
Coming to Our Lady of Tapao, be
faithful and imitate Our Mother virtues to love one another.
Coming to Our Lady of Tapao, say
the Rosary regularly and fervently.
Coming to Our Lady of Tapao, will
not go with empty hand.
Fr. Joseph Nguyen Huu An