Sardinian shops 'fighting over giving gifts to the pope'

Anticipation grows over pontiff's visit to Italian island

Sardinian shops 'fighting over giving gifts to the pope'

Cagliari, August 12 - Shops in Sardinia are fighting over the privilege to give local products as gifts to Pope Francis on his visit to the island next month, the archbishop of Cagliari said Monday. Monsignor Arrigo Miglio was speaking at the presentation of offerings made to Catholic charity group Caritas by residents in the region honoring the Argentine pontiff's pilgrimage September 22 to the Nostra Signora di Bonaria (Our Lady of Fair Winds) shrine in the Cagliari basilica. "We would like that day to be used to strengthen the ties between Cagliari and Buenos Aires, perhaps gathering offerings for the outskirts of the Argentine capital," said Miglio. The Madonna di Bonaria gave the pope's hometown - Buenos Aires - its name, the pontiff told Sardinian pilgrims at a general audience in May, when he announced the visit. The shrine has been venerated by mariners for almost 700 years and has housed a religious order since the 1300s. Cagliari was conquered by the Aragonese kings from Spain in 1324 who set up their headquarters on a hill they called Buen Ayre (Bonaria) because it did not get the foul-smelling air from swamps outside the city. During the siege of Cagliari, the Aragonese built a sanctuary to the Virgin Mary on top of the hill. A statue of Mary was later claimed to have been found in the sea after it miraculously helped to calm a storm, saving sailors. Spanish sailors, especially Andalusians, venerated this image and frequently invoked the Fair Winds to aid them in their navigation and prevent shipwrecks. A sanctuary to the Virgin of Buen Ayre was later erected in Seville. The founder of Buenos Aires in South America, Spanish conquistador Pedro de Mendoza, dubbed the city Santa Maria de los Buenos Aires (Holy Mary of the Fair Winds) in 1536.

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