> ANSA English > News

Monks seek offerings to fix Basilica before pope's visit

Sardinia shrine named after Francis' hometown

12 June, 19:07
Monks seek offerings to fix Basilica before pope's visit (ANSA) - Cagliari, June 12 - Monks at the shrine that gave Pope Francis' hometown its name are asking for donations to keep its adjacent basilica from falling apart before the pontiff's arrival in September. The Nostra Signora di Bonaria (Our Lady of Fair Winds) basilica in Cagliari, Sardinia has suffered significant damage, with water seeping through roof leaks forcing the closure of a side chapel, attendants say. The pope is scheduled to visit the shrine with a mass at the basilica in the Sardinian capital Cagliari on September 22. The shrine gave his hometown Buenos Aires in Argentina its name, the pontiff told Sardinian pilgrims at a general audience last month.

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.