Christianity in Laos 18151915

In the mid-fourteenth century a powerful kingdom called Lan Xang was founded among the Laotians, the majority of whom were descendants of Thai tribes, by Fa Ngoun (1353-73), who introduced Khmer civilisation and Theravada Buddhism. In subsequent centuries Lan Xang waged intermittent wars with its neighbours and succeeded in expanding its territory. In 1707,how-ever, Lan Xang was split by internal dissensions into two kingdoms: Luang Prabang in the north and Vientiane in the south. During the next century the two states were overrun by the neighbouring countries. In the nineteenth century, they were dominated by Siam (Thailand) and Vietnam. When France colonised Vietnam, it forced Siam to recognise a French protectorate over Laos, and in 1893 it incorporated Laos into the Union of French Indochina.

Christian mission in Laos was first attempted in 1642 by the Jesuit missionary Giovanni Maria Leria, assisted by a number of Vietnamese catechists. After five years he was forced to leave the country without significant results since, like Cambodia, Laos was deeply influenced by Buddhism. For the next two centuries, there was no trace of any Christian community. Christian mission in Laos, especially in Luang Brabang, was not resumed until 1858 by Bishop Miche, who assigned Ausoleil and Triaire to the task. Unfortunately, Triaire died of fever in 1859, and Ausoleil had to returned to Bangkok.

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