Chilean Miners Sign Flag Given to Pope

Benedict XVI Assures He’s Still Praying for 33 Trapped Men

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 7, 2010 ( The group of 33 Chilean miners trapped 700 meters (2,300 feet) below ground has made its presence felt in the Vatican, signing a flag that was presented today to Benedict XVI.

The miners have been underground since a cave-in Aug. 5. There is hope that the first drill to reach their refuge will break through on Saturday, and the process of hauling the miners up will begin soon thereafter.

But today, the miners were in the minds of representatives of the Catholic press who met with the Pontiff to conclude a four-day meeting sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

The 230 journalists came from 85 nations, including Chile. Jaime Coiro, director of communications for the Episcopal Conference of Chile, was part of the Chilean delegation.

At the end of the audience, Coiro was able to present the Pope with the flag.

His twitter feed recounted some of the details:

«I gave the flag to the Pope. He was very interested. He became very happy at seeing the miners’ signatures.

«The Holy Father asked me if they would be rescued on Saturday. I told him that the rescue is expected in the next few days.

«He took the flag and together with me, unfolded it, looking over the signatures. He told me that he continues to pray.»


The flag came to be signed by the miners because of the initiative of the wife of one of them, Claudio Yáñez. The woman asked her husband to get the miners to sign a flag so that she could take it to a school.

Yáñez obliged, asking his companions in the mine to sign the flag and adding his own message: «The 33 of us are alive in this refuge» and a dedication to the school.

However, to ensure that the flag would make it to its destination, a second flag was similarly signed. This second flag was given to the director of communications of the Diocese of Copiapo, to be used as an offering in a national meeting of Chilean journalists last week in Santiago.

At that gathering, the journalists decided to send the flag to Rome as a token of gratitude to the local Churches of the world that have shown solidarity with the plight of the miners, and prayed for them.

«But the opportunity to give [the flag] to the Pope was a true surprise,» Coiro explained, «because God speaks through these mysteries.» He noted that he was part of the group that was able to greet the Pope personally today because he had replaced someone from the Latin American bishops’ council (CELAM) who was unable to attend.

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