Pope Francis has announced only two trips this first year of his Papacy: World Youth Day in Brazil in July and to the Mediterranean the island of Sardinia, which is part of Italy, to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Bonaria (Our Lady of Good Air) to venerate the statue of Our Blessed Mother that has inspired seafarers for centuries.
At first I did not realize the relationship between this city and his homeland of Argentina. But after reading more I now understand why this shrine would have such meaning for him. The Conquistadores who came to South America named the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina after this shrine. Buenos Aires literally means “Good Air”. Apparently they argued over whether to name it the “City of the Most Holy Trinity” or “The City of Our Lady of Bonaria”. The sailors, many of whom were from Sardinia and therefore had a devotion to Our Lady of Bonaria prevailed in the argument. The name was later shortened to simply Buenos Aires.
Of course, since Pope Francis is from Argentina he is quite familiar with history of the shrine so it is no surprise that he wishes to pay a visit as many other Popes have done previously.
For more about this shrine check the page on our main website.
The Shrine has been under the auspices of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy (the Mercedians) since its founding in the 14th Century and are active is several areas throughout the world today. Note the comment below for a description of the above photo.
To learn more about the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy (the Mercedians) click here for their website.
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Here is a great video showing previous Papal visits and other celebrations from the shrine of Our Lady of Bonaria.
A note from Father Fr Joseph:
Pope Benedict came to the Shrine of Our Lady of Bonaria September 2008. There was a huge procession with the friars carrying the actual statue that was pulled out of the chest which washed ashore in the 1300’s. So all the Mercedarian Major Superiors from around the world were invited.
The three Americans in the picture holding the statue were Fr Joseph Eddy (me) (tall blonde), Fr Tony Fortunato (short), and Fr Richard Rasch (heavy set black hair). I was there as a newly ordained priest.
We (the friars) processed before the papal Mass re-inacting the time when the Mercedarians pulled the chest out of the water and carried it up the hill were their friary was. The chest was opened and the candle in our lady’s hand was still lit.
That day was very special since the people were all there and dressed in traditional garb. We all met the Pope after the Mass.