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Our Lady of Lujan, patroness of pope’s homeland, going home with Francis’ blessing

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The statue has been in Britain since the Falklands Conflict in 1982; a replica will replace the image in England

Pope Francis had the chance to bless a statue of Our Lady of Lujan, the patroness of his native Argentina, that is going to be returned to his homeland.

The statue was brought to Britain after the Falkland War in 1982.

Argentine troops brought the statue of Our Lady of Lujan to the Falkland Islands, or Las Malvinas, when they tried to take the British colony in 1982. The statue is a copy of the 1630 original, which is located in the Basilica of Lujan in Argentina.

Argentina claimed that the islands were taken illegally in 1833. The conflict lasted just 74 days but 649 Argentine military personnel, 255 British military personnel, and three Falkland Islanders died during the hostilities.

The statue was left behind in a church in Port Stanley, but then was packed up on a military transport to the UK and ended up at the Catholic Military Cathedral of St Michael and St George in Aldershot, England.

It has stayed there since as a focus for prayer offered for the fallen of both sides of the Falklands conflict.

But when Bishop Paul Mason was installed as bishop of the Great Britain Military in July of 2018, he was contacted by Bishop Santiago Olivera of the Argentine Military Forces, asking if the statue could be returned. Bishop Olivera suggested that a replica could be made for the Aldershot Cathedral, an offer that Bishop Mason accepted.

Pope Francis met with both the bishops of the Armed Forces from both the UK and Argentina today.

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

 

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