Pope Benedict XVI has received a Chilean flag at the Vatican signed by the 33 miners trapped 700 meters below ground in Chile’s Atacama desert.
The flag was presented to the Pope by the new Chilean ambassador to the Holy See, Fernando Zegers Santa Cruz.
“I cannot forget the miners of the Atacama region and their loved ones, for whom I continue to pray fervently”, Pope Benedict XVI, head of the Catholic Church said to Cruz as he welcomed him to the Vatican in Italy.
Along with the 33 signatures written on the bottom half of the lone-star national flag, the now famous words first read aloud by President Sebastián Piñera: “Estamos bien en el refugio los 33 – All 33 of us are well in the shelter,” are printed in bold script on the flag’s upper half. The message was first scrawled down on a piece of paper and attached to a probe that reached the men’s location on Aug. 22.
Many of the miners who have endured two months of entrapment, have relied on their Catholic faith to give them strength throughout the ordeal. A priest who has been in regular contact with the miners read aloud one letter he had recieved, from 19 year old Jimmy Sanchez which said “I feel something inside. It’s very hard to express. But if God has kept us all here alive it’s because he has something planned for us when we get out.”
The Pope has been following the fate of the 33 men since August, when he said that he was praying for a “happy conclusion” to their ordeal. The men have been stuck in the mine since Aug. 5 but their safe rescue is expected tonight, amid one of the most anticipated moments in international media this year.
During the ceremony in Rome the Pope also expressed his sympathy for the victims of the 8.8 magnitude earthquake and subsequent Tsunami on February 27 in Chile, which killed more than 500 people.
This post is also available in Spanish