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History of the TA PHIN monastery

At the end of 1941, twelve nuns belonging to a congregation of devout Reformed Cistercians, « whose only purpose was prayer and penitence», were thrown out of the monastery of Our Lady of the Angels in Hakodaté (Japan). Eight of them as well as the prior wished to stay in Asia. On January 8th, 1942, the French ambassador in Japan wrote to the bishop of Hung-Hoa, Mgr. Vandaele, and solicited that they be welcomed on «missionary ground».

On February 13th, 1942, for the token rent of one piastre per year, the Superior Resident granted a long-term lease over « the estate of the old fruit-growing station of Ta Phing (44 hectares of buildings and lands), uncultivated or fallow land ».

On June 11th, 1942, the sisters arrived at Lao Kay railway station and were installed in a wooden building «in poor condition», «each had only the clothes she was wearing, and 200 yens».

On June 19th, the French Resident in Lao Kay gave them « 8 milk cows, 9 calves, 2 oxen, 2 heifers, 1 bull, and farming implements »

The aim was to start « large-scale raising of pigs and chickens» and to « usefully complement the dairy products, milk, butter and cheese produced by the Chapa station in insufficient quantity for the number of summer visitors both civil and military ». The sisters also « set about to grow black wheat, oats, barley, buckwheat… » and develop « fruit trees, potatoes, vegetables and vineyards ». As of September 1942, the sisters were producing peach, apple and other fruit jams and had difficulties satisfying « the numerous orders for butter and cheese of the Port Salut type coming from Hanoi ».

As of August 1942, legionnaires were supervising the Annamite workers digging a platform on which the new monastery was to be built. The foundation stone was lain on October 8th, 1942 in the presence of the Superior Resident, and a parchment was deposited in a cavity made in the south-east corner-stone of «Our Lady of Peace Monastery».

In fact, only the first phase of the work was to be completed, and the rest of the convent, which was supposed to welcome « a hundred sisters, lay sisters and novices » was never built. Nor were the planned guest quarters and chaplaincy. Only the farmhouse buildings were ever built. During the 1947 unrest, the sisters hurriedly fled to Hanoi and the monastery was burned down.

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Create date : 15-10-2010 10:49:45

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