By Vatican News staff writer
Addressing the bishops of Argentina in a video message, Pope Francis said that in this “month of May, month of Mary, May 8,” he is looking toward Lujan.
Pope Francis expressed his closeness to them as they come together to pray the Rosary for the health of the Argentine people at vespers on Friday, 7 May – the eve of the Solemnity of Our Lady of Luján, Patroness of Argentina.
“From here, I accompany you,” Pope Francis said to the Bishops.
The Pope also noted that on Saturday, 8 May, the Bishops will join in praying the Rosary at 1: 00 pm with the Basilica of Our Lady of Luján – the sanctuary leading the prayers of the day for the May Rosary initiative promoted by the Pope.
Afterward, at 7: 00 pm, the Bishops will celebrate Mass at the Sanctuary of Luján, during which there will include the changing of the mantle on the statue of Our Lady of Luján.
At that Mass, Pope Francis added, “I know that you will be called together to prepare the novena of 2030 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the miracle.”
A journey of memory
Speaking further on the anniversary, Pope Francis noted that “it is a very long journey, but one that passes quickly and must be done.”
It is “a journey of memory of what the Virgin did there, she wanted to stay there,” the Pope said. “A path of memory, of many years and years of pilgrimages, of searching, of miracles, of daughters and sons walking to see their mother.”
Concluding his message, the Holy Father prayed that memory may be the guide in the encounter because “a strong memory guarantees a secure future.” He also encouraged the Bishops to remember all that Our Lady has done in Argentina (which is also the Pope’s native country) and urged them to “let themselves be accompanied by her and accompany her on her way.”
Finally, with a request for prayers for himself, Pope Francis invoked a blessing on the Bishops and implored Our Lady to watch over them.
Our Lady of Luján
Our Lady of Luján has been venerated in Argentina since 1630. The history of the shrine began with a farmer who wanted to take the figure from Buenos Aires to his ranch. The oxen pulling the wagon stopped inexplicably next to the Lujan River and would not move until the figure was taken out from the wagon. In the 1800s the image was canonically crowned was moved to its current sanctuary, which was given the title of Basilica in 1930 by Pope Pius XII.