Thao Nguyen, SJ

 Marian devotion among Vietnamese Catholics and worship of the Goddess of Mercy, Quan Am or Guanyin (Chinese),1 among Vietnamese Buddhists, are two dominant forms of religious practice in Vietnam.2 Popular devotion to these female deities formed a special type of religiosity that has helped sustain the institutional religions and nurture the ethical and spiritual life of the followers. While Marian devotion helps Catholics sustain their faith in the difficult times as well as survive religious persecutions,3 devotion to Quan Am helps Vietnamese Buddhists cope with trying situations in their lives.4 Moreover, while devotion to Mary motivates Catholics to live out their ethical lives in a relationship with God and other human fellows, devotion to Quan Am helps Buddhists attain ethical and spiritual values, such as compassion, patience, mercy, and harmony.5 Similarly, Catholics look to Mary as an exemplar of compassion, humility, patience, peace, and charity.6 From a cultural perspective, devotion to Quan Am and Mary has been also strengthened by the in digenous Cult of the Mother Goddess interweaved with Vietnamese feminine cultural characteristics.7

Quan Am and Mary: Vietnamese Religious, Cultural, and Spiritual Phenomena