For a century pilots and travelers have prayed to the Virgin Mary to keep them safe while in the air. Marking this milestone anniversary of the declaration of Our Lady of Loreto as the patron saint of aviation and aviators, Pope Francis earlier this year conceded a Lauretan Jubilee for all air travelers, and for pilgrims who come to the Shrine of the Holy House.
Our Lady’s protection for air travelers
Speaking to Vatican News, Archbishop Fabio Dal Cin the papal delegate to the shrine, said it was a “great opportunity to strengthen the bonds of devotion to the Mother of Heaven." The Archbishop added that, "it's good news because it's not just about members of the Air Force but about all air travelers."
Delving back into history, the Papal Delegate noted that, "The veterans of the First World War asked the Pope at the time to obtain special protection from Mary. The first planes, at the time, were called 'flying churches…”
"Entrusting to Our Lady of Loreto all those who boarded an aircraft was, therefore, completely natural", he said.
“We are called to fly high”, the Archbishop underlined, “we are called to holiness, to the fullness of life and happiness that is the holiness offered by the Lord.”
The Shrine is honoured by Christians as the house in Nazareth in which the Holy Family lived, and which was transported to Loreto, Italy in December 1294.
Following the Eucharistic celebration presided over by Monsignor Krzysztof Nykiel, Regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary on the Feast of All Saints, the Lauretan Jubilee will begin on the 8th December, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, with the opening of the Holy Door by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. The year will close on the 10th December.
Roman calendar feast
In addition to the Jubilee, Pope Francis has decreed “that the optional memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto should be inscribed in the Roman Calendar on 10 December, the day on which the feast falls in Loreto, and celebrated every year."
According to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, “This celebration will help all people, especially families, youth and religious to imitate the virtues of that perfect disciple of the Gospel, the Virgin Mother, who, in conceiving the Head of the Church also accepted us as her own.”