Maybe.. for some people this Our Lady of The Assumption church is not categorized as “must see place” in Battambang. But for me, this church is the first thing I know about Battambang since I read about the biography of Bishop Paul Tep Im.
So when I traveled to Battambang, I visited this place as my first destination. I met a priest named Father Ros Moung who told me the brief history about this church (the old one had been destroyed by Khmer Rouge), and also about Bishop Paul Tep Im Sotha who was killed by the Khmer Rouge in 1975 near the Thai border. He also invited me to attend mass at the station where the bishop was killed. But unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to go there. Father Ros Moung is very warm and friendly even though he was in hurry because he was going to give confession in a school.
I found a thing that is very impressive from this church : the statue of Mary of The Inclusive Love. This carving is present in all the parishes in Battambang.
In its website, I found the complete meaning of the symbols carved on this statue :
Mary holds Jesus with open arms welcoming all who wish to draw near, both of them with a disarming smile. In the middle of the figure are two children; one holds a book symbolizing wisdom, the other plays the flute putting together art, music and tradition in praising God.
In the lower part are three children; one child gives a hug of welcome, a sign of solidarity to include two other disabled children. One child is on a wheelchair holding a dove to represent peace and the other child uses a crutch and holds flowers; a sign of love and God’s greatest commandment–Love one another as I have loved you. The crutch and the wheelchair are like a sacrament that gives them back their dignity and makes communion between disable and non-disabled.
The cloak of Our Lady which surrounds them all symbolizes the family we belong to in the church. We are all included under this cloak. We are all under the love of God. We are all creatures made as an image of God, the supreme master builder.
At the bottom of the image are lotus flowers, the most emblematic flower in Cambodia as a symbol of glory, purity and holiness.
This place made my trip to battambang very memorable. I have found a new meaning of my Catholic faith : to have inclusion love as Mary, our heavenly mother.