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By Gianni Valente
Narrative by Fr Paul Leung, SDB
(Delegate Superior of Mongolia)

Darkhan (Agenzia Fides), 27 August 2023 - In the Cathedral of Ulaanbaatar there is a statue of the Virgin Mary that suggestively crosses the path of the small Mongolian Catholic community. She was found in a landfill more than fifteen years ago by a woman from Darkhan in northern Mongolia. The woman took the statue and placed it in the most honorable corner of her Ger, the traditional Mongolian house.

The curious thing is that it is not known where the statue of Mary found in the landfill came from. At the time of its discovery, there were no Christians in that part of Mongolia. Only a few years later did the first Salesians of Don Bosco come to Darkhan. Today, Father Leung Kon Chiu, a Salesian priest from Hong Kong, interprets the story of the statue, which was discovered in the Ger in 2013 by a nun, also a Don Bosco nun, as follows: "If what the lady said is true, she found this statue of Mary before we priests and sisters arrived in Darkhan. So this Madonna was in this place before we arrived. And she prepared the ground for us. And the fact that we are here is a grace of Our Lady". The Pope was also briefed on the statue of Darkhan ahead of his visit to Mongolia. The Apostolic Prefect of Ulaanbaatar, Cardinal Giorgio Marengo, asked to place it in the cathedral. And the statue has become "a symbol of our Catholic Church in Mongolia". Cardinal Marengo has therefore also proclaimed a Year of Our Lady of Mongolia, which will end on December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

The touching story of the statue of Mary found in the Darkhan landfill is told in the sixth video reportage Teresa Tseng Kuang yi produced for Fides ahead of Pope Francis' trip to Mongolia (31 August to 4 September). In the video, Father Leung Kon Chiu mentions the works initiated and carried out by the Salesians of Don Bosco in Mongolia: the vocational schools - also appreciated by the civil authorities - English and computer courses, the Parish in Darkhan dedicated to Saint Mary, Help of Christians, a farm to promote modern agricultural production methods and the Ulaanbaatar street children's charity.

In the interview, the Salesian Father Paul Leung also refers to one of Don Bosco's famous dreams, which also concerned Mongolia. "Don Bosco's dreams were not mere dreams," says Father Leung, "In one of them, the Piedmontese saint said he saw the glorious flowering of Catholicism in a country that was 'very old and very large'". Also thanks to the work of missionaries "who left from Tartaria". And Tartaria - Father Leung points out "is an ancient name of Mongolia". The Salesian missionary sees Pope Francis' upcoming visit to Ulaanbaatar as a "sign from God" and adds: "Of what exactly? I can't say because I don't know. But I think history will tell us...".

Source: Agenzia Fides












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