Our Lady of Loreto to Protect Rome's Airport

Pope Blesses Statue of Patron of Aviation

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ROME, DEC. 3, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Our Lady of Loreto, the patron of aviation, will soon protect those flying in and out of Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport.

On Wednesday, during the weekly general audience in Paul VI Hall, Benedict XVI blessed an 8-foot bronze statue of Our Lady of Loreto holding the Christ-child, and standing on the globe over which three planes are flying.

On Dec. 10, the feast of Our Lady of Loreto, the statue will be placed in Rome’s international airport. The event is part of the celebration of the 90th anniversary of her proclamation as patron of aviation by Benedict XV in 1920.
The statue was presented to Benedict XVI by the president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, Archbishop Antonio Vegliò; the papal delegate for the Loreto Shrine, Archbishop Giovanni Tonucci; Bishop Gino Reali of Porto-Santa Rufina; and the chaplain of Rome’s airport, Father Giorgio Rizzieri.
According to ancient tradition, the Holy House of Nazareth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the place of the Annunciation, was transported by angels from Galilee to Italy.

Although it is suggested by historians that the house was transported by see, the story that the house was transported by air became part of the tradition of the shrine, and formed a connection between Our Lady and flight.
The historical and archeological remains indicate that this house first had a brief stay in Dalmatia, before being moved in 1924 to Loreto, which at the time belonged to the Papal States, to guarantee greater security to pilgrims.
In 1921, a fire destroyed the original statue of Our Lady, but another was soon made, crowned by Pope Pius XI in 1924, and placed again in the shrine.
Historical and archeological investigations have found that the house’s foundations and the size of the stones match those of the house that once was in Nazareth.

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