Cagliari

Pope's visit to Sardinia to focus on jobs, young people

'100,000 communion hosts prepared'

Pope's visit to Sardinia to focus on jobs, young people

(By Christopher Livesay) Cagliari, September 10 - Youth and labour will be key issues for Pope Francis when he travels to Sardinia later this month, but he will also meet with the poor, a Church official said Tuesday. Francis is scheduled to arrive early morning on September 22 in Cagliari where he will meet with low-income residents, prison representatives and local officials, said Archbishop Arrigo Miglio. The pope will also be met by Italian Justice Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri before heading to the shrine at the Basilica of Our Lady of Bonaria in the Sardinian capital Cagliari to celebrate Mass. The visit to the shrine, venerated by mariners for almost 700 years, is a highlight of the trip. Francis's predecessor Benedict XVI visited the Nostra Signora di Bonaria (Our Lady of Fair Winds) shrine in 2008. 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, Spanish conquistador Pedro de Mendoza, dubbed the city Santa Maria de los Buenos Aires (Holy Mary of the Fair Winds) in 1536. Local clergy are using the pope's visit to build relations with Argentina through such efforts as offering collections for the country's poor. "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," according to Monsignor Arrigo Miglio, the archbishop of Cagliari. According to local reports, as many as 100,000 communion hosts have been prepared for the pope's Mass which will be followed by a meeting between Francis and local bishops and students. Francis is also expected to meet with detainees and social workers involved with troubled youth, in addition to predicted mingling with random believers, which has become a hallmark of his papacy and helped make him one of the most beloved pontiffs in recent history. According to the archbishop of Cagliari, shops in Sardinia are already fighting over the privilege to give him local products as gifts.

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