Friday, August 11, 2017

Korea's #1 Holy Place to Visit: Holy Mother's Shrine

Daegu Citizen Press 2017

Holy Mother's Shrine 
Feel the Serenity and Silence

Sigh. I really don't want to tell you about this place. Frankly, I'm worried that if people know about it, they'll start going there more and more, and then it will lose what I like most about it – its serenity and silence. I'm so conflicted. But I’ve got a job to do, so:

The Holy Mother's Shrine is on the downtown campus of Daegu Catholic University in a large, rambling mixture of park-like spaces, dorms, shrines and other university buildings. It's the kind of place where you can turn a corner and immediately feel like you're somewhere else altogether. When I visited there, the campus feels like a busy place (there's always someone around)  but it's not swamped with crowds like most of Daegu's better-known spots.

Anyway, in 1911 Bishop Demange, the first head of the Catholic diocese in Daegu, prayed to the Virgin Mary, the Holy Mother, for her help in establishing a seminary, a cathedral and other works. He promised to create a beautiful shrine in her honor in exchange for her assistance.

By 1918 the bishop's hopes that all been fulfilled, so he dutifully oversaw the construction of a kind of grotto, much like the grotto in Lourdes, France, on a lovely plot of land that had been set aside just for that purpose. Red brick walls were set upon a granite foundation, with a statue of the Holy Mother placed among a cave-like interior. (The red brick is beautiful, by the way, as you can see in the photo below.) Across the top of the structure's top was carved "Ex Voto Immaculatae Conceptioni" -- "from a promise made to the Holy Mother" (er, basically).

Visitors are welcome to sit among the shady trees, light a prayer candle if they wish or simply quietly consider whatever thoughts are running through their mind.

But please bear in mind: This is a holy place – parklike but not actually a park – so food and drinks are discouraged, as are loud conversation and distractions like smartphones and pets. Discreet photography is okay.

Also in the Area: St. Justin's Catholic Seminary is a delightful refuge from the din of city life. It’s pleasantly dark and cool even in summer, except when the afternoon sunlight comes through the stained-glass windows and gives the dark wooden interior a warm glow.

Address 112, Namsan-ro 4-gil, Jung-gu, Daegu, Korea
KR Address 대구 중구 남산로4 112
Night scene

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