Monday, December 9, 2013

South Korea Day 9 : Shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Namyang

Fast-forward, Day 9. 

After my stay at Pyeongtaek-si, I went to Hwaseong, a small city in Gyeonggi province in South Korea.  Aside from visiting my cousin Marlyn, her fraternal twins, Mavin and Mikael, her husband Kyounglee and my Aunt Rollie, I had an opportunity to discover a place I never thought I could  see. 

While strolling around the neighborhood, looking for a shop to buy some souvenirs, we passed this Shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Namyang. Curiousity rushed over me since I know only small portion of the South Korean community is Catholic. 

I found their official website and a few introduction went like this, "The Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Namyang, also known as "Rosary Hill,"is one of the places where a large number of Catholics were martyred during the Great Byungin Persecution. To memorialize their martyrdom as proof of their faith, Namyang was designated as a Holy Site on October 7, 1991, the feast day of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Rosary. For the first time in the history of the Korean Catholic Church, a site was exclusively dedicated to the Holy Mother and prayer for peace". You may see the whole link at Shrine of the Holy Rosary of Namyang, South Korea.

When we were inside passing the wide steel gates, I was amazed by how spacious it was inside. I could see few people around, maybe because of the cold weather or maybe because it was Thursday. We went further and though it was around -4 degrees Celsius temperature that day, with layered  clothes and thick jacket, I spent almost two hours roaming, hiking, taking pictures and trying so hard to contain the moment. 

What is interesting about this place is that on aerial view, this rosary hill resembles the icon of Vladimir's Our Lady of Mercy. The area was so wide, from the two spacious areas for the gathering of the devotees, gardens, chapel, rosary road and others. 

This is a unique prayer room, the design may be made in consideration of the weather in South Korea. I like the way my lighted candle burns hot in Her presence. I believe there was a reason why my feet dragged  me to this place.

Pilgrim Area, Chapel Area and the Well of Life where you can actually drink its spring water
I hiked further, as long as my feet could carry me. The place was so wide that you could imagined the things you'd want to do here. It was so silent, so serene, calm (okay, aside from the aircraft sound passing on top of you. Hwaseong area is near Incheon Airport, so you could actually do plane-spotting at this area too) that the only thing on your mind was to thank God for letting you stumble upon this place. And as the icy,cold breeze touches my cheeks which sends shivers down my spine, I uttered for the first time since I step on that place, "Thank you myLord for everything!" 

It was a bit icy morning when I came in; it was so cold that even the thickest jacket would fail to make you warm. It snowed the night before and the ice on the ground glistened as if they were waiting for me before they could melt by the might sun. 

I noticed that along the road, there were round, somewhat concrete-like stones lining up to the top of the hills. They were spaced about 4 meters away from each other and thought about what a great design it was. Later when reading the history on their website, I found out that they are actually Rosary beads and pilgrims and devotees can pray the Holy Rosary with it, and I was thankful, my hands actually touched it, not by the fact that I was fascinated with the snow sticking on its surface but I just felt the urge to touch it. Now I know why, I was reminded to always pray the Holy Rosary. 

Granite spheres lining up like Rosary beads lining up on the road, which they called, The Twenty-Decade Rosary Road.  Praying the Holy Rosary felt as  holy as the ones praying over Vatican

There was a chapel on one of the rosary hills. During a mass, it can be heard even from the farthest part of the shrine because of the speakers mounted on some poles stationed on the rosary hill. No one can ever miss a holy mass. I began to saw other devotees coming inside, perhaps they wanted to attend mass that morning. According to the history, "Rosary Hill at Namyang is one of the places where a large number of Catholics were martyred during the Great Byungin Persecution."  I must say this place holds a lot of mysteries and so sacred since the early martyrs of South Korean Catholics' faith was tested here. I uttered a small prayer after reading it. 

Such a beautiful place, simply beautiful. I know this place could be more beautiful during Spring.

Suddenly, my feet began to complain. As I continue to hike further up passing the chapel on the other side of the shrine, I told myself to think I would not miss any spot on this place --- I had to see everything. And so my feet carried me to The Garden of Merciful Jesus. I let out a little sigh of relief. Looking back, I realized that the hill I climbed to was so steep but I was happy with my little achievement. It is true that you never know what is on top until you try everything just to see it

The Garden of Merciful Jesus : huge statue of the Divine Mercy, Pieta, busts of Saint Faustina and Pope John Paul II

I know I had to rest. It was about more than two hours since I entered the shrine. I decided to take a short break at A Prayer Place for Protecting Life. There was tomb built on a hill with a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe before reaching The Garden of Merciful Jesus. Since the signs were all written in Hangul, I couldn't read anything of course and it  just left me a lot questions. Later I learned that they built that specific place for the souls of aborted children. Oh, how I wish to have children on my own. Again, I prayed. 

A Prayer Place for Protecting Life 

I believed I've seen most of the spots at the shrine. Mixed emotions are starting to pile up on me --- that happiness by the fact that your dream of travelling on the other side of the world became a reality; that contentment I felt recalling all the blessings, hardships and hopes that I have left an overwhelming experience for me on the past decades of my existence; that joy of looking forward for the future knowing that God will always with me no matter what; and that I will never be afraid for whatever path God leads me on, I know I will be extremely  happy. It was a tearful moment for me as I hiked down on one of the hills on a icy cold morning on my 9th day stay in South Korea. 

Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Namyang, Hwaseong, South Korea : I will never forget you

I believe there are a lot of reasons why I stumble upon this place. I know God has been working for me to discover this shrine from the foreign land I'm in. I am happy for letting me see one of your graces.

Like this little girl under the sky, I will forever be faithful.

1 comment:

  1. hi,do you still remember the name of the place there? expect Namyang