MANILA, Philippines – Currently, Korea has the fourth largest number of saints in the Catholic world. According to Mr. Sangyong Zhu, Director of KTO Manila, “There are many Catholic shrines and churches where miracles are said to have happened. People come to these holy places to be blessed and healed by the Holy Spirit and to learn about the struggles of establishing the Catholic Church in a land once dominated by Confucianism.”
One of the famous Catholic Cathedral is Gamgok Catholic Church of Our Blessed Mother of Maegoe, which was established in 1896, and has more than 100 years of history in Chungcheongbukdo Province, Korea. Father Camillus Lim, founder of Gamgok Maegoe Virgin Mary Cathedral, often said to the people he met “I loved you before I met you”. This saying showed his passion and love towards his parishioners.
In the cathedral, there are holy miracles by the Virgin Mary that have been taking place continuously, it is considered as the Lourdes of Korea. Among many miracles, the following five miracles are most well-known.
Miracle 1: Korean Catholic devotees believe that it was the Virgin Mary who established, protected, and sustained the cathedral. A French priest, Camillus Lim, who was born in a village 20 kilo meters from Lourdes in France, came to Korean peninsula in 1894 for his pastoral ministry. He found a huge house and mountain owned by Ung-Sik Min, a second cousin of Empress Min of the Choseon Dynasty. He felt that it was the right place to build a cathedral but it was very expensive. So the French priest prayed unceasingly prayed, “Our Blessed Mother, please give us this house and the mountain.” After a year and 4 months since he started praying, he finally bought the property and paid only USD 199 for it.
Miracle 2: In 1943 during the Japanese colonial period, Japanese rulers tried to construct a Japanese temple on the hillside of Mt. Maegoe (meaning “rose”) nearby Gamgok Maegoe Virgin Mary Cathedral. The site for the temple was chosen to dempen the power and influence of the Holy cathedral. Father Camillus Lim prayed to the Blessed Mary, appealing, “Let the construction be stopped.” Due to various extraordinary weather conditions and a sudden appearance of beasts, the construction could not proceed for two years. They had to withdraw and the independence of Korea was redeemed.
Miracle 3: Japanese soldiers also seized three French-made bells from the Gamgok Maegoe Cathedral in order to melt them for the iron. However, the bells didn’t melt even in a blast. The Japanese soon gave up and abandoned the bells, one of which is now on top of the cathedral and the other two displayed in the museum next to the cathedral.
Miracle 4: In the sanctuary of the cathedral is a five-foot, hollow, plaster statue of the Virgin Mary, made in Lourdes, France. It was brought to the cathedral by Father Camillus Lim in 1896. During the Korean War in 1950s, North Korean soldiers occupied that cathedral as their command center. The soldiers didn’t like the Blessed Mother’s statue, so they aimed their machine gun and fired at it. Seven bullets that went through should have instantly shattered that thin, hollow plaster statue. But it didn’t. The bullets went in, but they ever exited, as if some invisible hand prevented them from destroying the statue. Frightened from that experience, the North Korean soldiers abandoned the cathedral and fled the place. That statue is still there with the seven large bullet holes that failed to shatter it. The seven bullet marks have become a way for pilgrimages to meditate on the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Mary.
Miracle 5: On the right side of the cathedral, visitors can access the Way of Cross on Mt. Maegoe. Korean devotees believe that if you walk up the road, your disease or mental pains will be healed. A pilgrimage tour will give you an idea of the severity of the persecutions experienced by early Korean Catholics and you’ll also get to see many items related to the history of Catholicism in Korea.
The Pilgrimage Tour (USD 798, 5D4N, 4 Star Accommodation) via Asiana Airlines including Gamgok MaegoeVirgin Mary Catholic Cathedral is exclusively offered by the following 6 travel agencies: Ark Travel Express Inc. (Tel. 816-1999, 831-6727) ; Far Eastern Travel Agency (FETA) (351-6776, 0917-800-0461); Golden Sky Travel & Tours (559-8018 to 19); Island Resort Club Tour (IRC) (708-9999); Pioneer Tours Corporation (245-7461, 895-4344); Rakso Air Travel&Tours (812-9667, 353-4809)
For more details and queries, you may contact KTO Manila Office at 02 880 0312~0313 or through email [email protected](advt)