Pope Sends Rosaries He's Blessed to Chile Miners

Cardinal Able to Tell Trapped Men of Pontiff’s Prayers for Them

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COPIAPO, Chile, SEPT. 3, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Francisco Errázuriz celebrated Mass on Thursday near the Chilean mine where 33 men have spent almost a month trapped 700 meters (2,300 feet) below ground.

The archbishop of Santiago, Chile, also brought a special gift for each of the miners: a rosary blessed and sent them by the Pope.

The cardinal was able to speak with the miners, telling them that on Sunday, Benedict XVI remembered them during his address before the midday Angelus. The Holy Father assured his spiritual closeness to the miners and promised his prayers for their speedy rescue. The rosaries are another way to express his affection, the cardinal explained.

«I was able to tell the miners on the telephone that I had come bringing them the 33 rosaries that the Pope had sent especially to them, that he himself blessed, so that he added this gesture to his words. […] His words that were addressed to the whole world, so that everyone would accompany us and pray for the success of this rescue operation,» Cardinal Errázuriz later reported.

I also told them that «we were proud of them, of the spirit with which they face this enormous difficulty with much fortitude, with much discipline among themselves and much faith, and not only with hope but with joy,» he added.

Family spirit

At a press conference that same day, the cardinal said Chile’s response to the plight of the miners has been laudable. «It is impressive how this event has united all of us as a family; there is no one in Chile who is not concerned day after day about what is happening to them.»

The miners were discovered alive 17 days after being trapped on Aug. 5. However, at such a distance below ground, it is estimated that it will take three to four months to dig a shaft wide enough to pull the men out. Digging began Monday, but had to be paused for several hours on Wednesday to reinforce the walls of the shaft.

Meanwhile, three fist-sized shafts are being used to provide the men with food, water and other supplies, as well as communication channels with their families.

Cardinal Errázuriz praised the miners’ courage, fortitude, joy, solidarity and discipline. And he noted their expressions of faith and love for God, as well as devotion to Our Lady and St. Lawrence, patron of miners.

The miners «have a hopeful spirit, with solidarity, with much faith, which gives us hope that they will be able to endure until they are rescued,» the prelate assured. «Every day there is a time of prayer for the miners.»

Priceless value

The Santiago archbishop also spoke of the widespread collaboration in the rescue effort.

«How many important works we could undertake in Chile with that spirit of solidarity,» the cardinal reflected.

«This effort proclaims the value of every human life, which is priceless,» he affirmed.

And he added, «The president, the ministers, the rescue workers, the whole of Chile is behind this.»

However, the cardinal also referred to an investigation committee in Congress, saying that although he did not want to make a judgement, he questioned how a mine would not have escape routes.

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