Photos: Thousands witness Lady of La Vang statue unveiling

A cobalt veil swayed in the breeze before mass as thousands of Catholics flocked to Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove on July 17. They were celebrating the Our Lady of La Vang Solemn Blessing Day. The crowd buzzed with excitement to see the new $12.6 million shrine and a centerpiece statue of Our Lady of La Vang.

In the statue, the first large-scale rendition in the U.S. of the sacred figure, Mary is depicted standing on a cloud, wearing a traditional Vietnamese ao dai dress and khan dong hat. She has a Eurasian face and holds the Baby Jesus. The Virgin Mary is believed to have appeared in a Vietnamese rainforest before a group of persecuted Vietnamese Catholics in 1798. Mary offered the desperate parishioners hope and guidance.

Vietnamese-Americans embrace in celebration of Our Lady of La Vang Solemn Blessing Day.

(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

“This shrine to Our Lady of La Vang is not only another example of how beauty draws to God, but it is a testimony to the faith of our Vietnamese brothers and sisters who have contributed so much to the life of our parishes here in Orange County …” said Bishop Kevin Vann.

According to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, the unveiling of the shrine serves as a testament to the journey of the Vietnamese-American people who survived war and religious persecution and regrouped through faith and community.

Orange County is home to the world’s largest population of Vietnamese outside of Vietnam. An estimated 100,000 Vietnamese Catholics live in OC.

Vietnamese-Americans and Catholics gather during a Mass celebration following the Our Lady of La Vang Solemn Blessing ceremony.

(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Cardinal Roger Mahony, former Archbishop of Los Angeles joins the procession during Mass.

(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Drummers perform during a musical prelude and colorful procession.

(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Our Lady of La Vang is seen behind a curtain prior to the unveiling.

(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Performers share a light moment before taking the stage to reenact a historical persecution scene during the prelude.

(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

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