Tra Kieu Church is situated in the old qu arter of Tra Kieu, 37km south of Danang. It was built in 1722 at one location, and then transferred to its current site in 1865. In 1971, Priest Phero Le Nhu Hao built the present nave according to l7th century European architecture.
Next to the church are the Love of the Cross Convent built in 1867, the Museum of Tradition sand the Church of the Holy Mother located on a 60m hill.
Formerly called Simhapura (Lion Citadel), Tra Kieu was the first capital city of Champa, serving in that capacity from the 4th to the 8th centuries. Today nothing remains of the ancient city except the rectangular ramparts.
A large number of artefacts, including some of the finest carvings in the Museum of Cham Sculpture in Danang, were found here.
You can get a wonderful view of the city’s outlines and the surrounding countryside from the Mountain Church (Nha Tho Nui), on the top of Buu Chau Hill. This modern, open-air structure was built in 1970 to replace an earlier church destroyed by an American bomb A Cham tower once stood on this spot. It’s worth visiting the little shop at the bottom of the hill to look at a picture of the site in antiquity and peruse its collection of small artefacts. The Mountain Church is 6.5km from Highway 1A and 19.5km from My Son- Within Tra Kieu, it is 200m from the morning market, Cho Tra Kieu, and 550m from Tra Kieu Church.
Tra Kieu Church
This church (Dia So Tra Kieu), which serves the town’s Catholic population of 3000, was built in the late 19th century. There’s a fantastic ceramic mosaic dragon on the external stairs. A priest from here, who died in 1988, was interested in the Cham civilisation and amassed a collection of artefacts found by local people. A 2nd-floor room in the building to the right of the church opened as a museum in 1990. The round ceramic objects with faces on them, which date from the 8th and 10th centuries, were affixed to the ends of tiled roofs. The face is of Kala, the God of Time. According to local belief this church was the site of a miracle in 1885, witnessed by 80 people. At that time, when the Catholic villagers were under attack by anti-French forces, a vision of a lady in white, believed to be Mary the mother of jesus, appeared on the top of the church. At the end of a 21-day siege during which 500 shells were fired on the village, the church and those who had sheltered in it remained unharmed. While not officially recognised by the Catholic Church, this is a popular site for Vietnamese pilgrims. The original Mountain Church was built to commemorate this event – although it didn’t achieve such divine protection itself during the American War. Tra Kieu Church is 7km from Highway 1A and 19km from My Son. It is down a street opposite the town’s Clink of Western Medicine (Quay ThuocTayY). Expect to stop for directions.
During the early spread of Roman catholic religion into Vietnam, Trà Kiệu had up to 4,000 parishioners. In 1885, the Văn Thân Movement has massacred 22 priests, 60 deacons, 300 nuns and 30,000 catholic believers. Their crimes were added with the devastation of 250 churches and chapels, 17 monasteries, 40 schools, 17 orphanages, and most of housings for some 55,000 followers. On July 1st this year, 4,000 armed soldiers suddenly besieged 2,000 parishioners who during the 21-day fight-to-the end with simple spears and broadswords vowed to not give up their belief. After overrunning the Bửu Châu East Post and Kim Sơn West Post, Văn Thân governmental forces shelled up to 500 artillery rounds over the tiny village. On the 2nd week, they opened general offensive and cut through the village’s bamboo fence. The female reservist group prayed in front of the Lady statue then fiercely counter-attacked. Legend says that the Văn Thân side witnessed a Lady in pure white dress standing on the roof to protect the church, and all but one single shell has hit the building with light damage which has been preserved until today.
In Vietnam so far only the miracles by The Lady of La Vang in Quãng Trị Province have been recognized. Once Trà Kiệu Church being established and promoted to pilgrimage center, it will attract more pilgrims to the area where the local site Mỹ Sơn is drawing travelers and archaeologists to its ruins.
Currently, Trà Kiệu Parish serves a catholic population of 3000. It is 7 km from the Nam Phước Junction on National Highway 1 and 19 km from the trail to Mỹ Sơn. In the past, this ancient capitol of the Champa Kingdom, (also called Lâm Ấp, or Simhapura — The City of Lions) situated next to the romantic Thu Bồn River where remains only damaged foundation of the ramparts, buried beneath piles of rocks.
A recent study of ceramic material, primarily pottery of Trà Kiệu from 4 excavations between 1990 and 1997, has been recorded and sampled, under a thesis that Trà Kiệu a center of the polity known to the Chinese as Lin-yi, perhaps from the 2nd, and certainly from the 7th century AD onwards and a little later it is known as a major center of the Indianised Champa kingdom…