The statue is to return to be put on public display for veneration, 37 years after it was removed during the Falklands War.
The British government has just returned a statue of the Virgin Mary, which they gained possession of during the Falklands War, back to Argentina. The statue, which had been in England for 37 years, was previously housed in the Our Lady of Lujan church, where it was one of Argentina’s most revered objects.
Philip Pullella, of Reuters, reports that the statue in question, a replica of the 1630 original which is still located in Our Lady of Lujan, was removed from the church by Argentine soldiers, who carried it into battle during the invasion of the Falkland Islands. When the Argentines were defeated the statue came into the hands of a Catholic Church official in the Falklands, who gave it to the Catholic chaplain of the British army.
The statue had been preserved in the Catholic Military Cathedral of St. Michael and St. George in Aldershot, until it was removed this week and taken to the Vatican, where English Bishop Paul Mason ceremoniously handed the statue to Argentine Bishop Santiago Olivera. The event took place during fellow Argentine Pope Francis’s general audience.
Bishop Olivera noted that the statue would be returned to be displayed at Our Lady of Lujan, in Argentina, where he hopes that the faithful will venerate it again as they did before the conflict. Bishop Mason stated that the return of this culturally significant statue demonstrates, “a united faith across two countries that have experienced political division.”