Korea does not have many or very well known Marian Sanctuaries.  There is, however, a recent sanctuary which deserves attention.  On November 11, 2001, the Grotto of "Unyang" was dedicated to the Madonna.  What is so special about Unyang?  Unyang is a recent creation, and it is the fruit of the generosity and labor of a group of parishioners led by their pastor.  The parish of Unyang (founded in 1927) belongs to the Diocese of Pusan in the south of South Korea.  Already its first parish priest, Rev. Emil Bodmin, had a project to make this natural grotto in the mountain around Unyang a place of devotion to Our Lady.  Alas, for financial reasons the project never materialized.


The Grotto of "Unyang" dedicated to Our Lady.

 

It is the thanks to the initiative of Rev. Soe Jung-Woong and his parishioners that the project became reality in 2001.  When the pastor discovered the deserted grotto, it was the sometime worship place of the local Shamanists.  Besides that, the grotto was filled with dirt and overgrowth.  The pastor picked up a spade and started cleaning out the grotto.  The parishioners, old and young, joined him in this venture and emptied the grotto of  rocks, mud and weeds.  Thus, they transformed it into a dignified worship space with an altar, seats made of tree trunks, and decorated it with Marian statues and images.


The parishioners building the "Way of the Cross."

They built a "Way of the Cross" which begins at the parish church and ends at the Marian Grotto.  On the last cross of the "Via Crucis," which marks the fifteenth station we read this moving message, "You are special to me."  Whoever climbs the steep incline of the Way of the Cross, praying and sweating, is rewarded with this message which makes them feel and experience how important they are to Jesus Christ and Our Lady.

 

Unyang is a small and nondescript village.  There were never any apparitions of Our Lady, healings or other special signs.  Nonetheless, many pilgrims visit the grotto.  And it is most appropriate to say that the Grotto of Unyang is a small miracle, for it was built with the sweat and faith of its parishioners.


The fifteenth Station of the "Vis Crucis,"
"You are special to me."

 

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