I’ve been reminded that Pope Francis is planning to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Bonaria in September and of the special link with the naming of Buenos Aires. At the end of a general audience in May, Pope Francis announced:-
“I would like to visit the Sanctuary in Cagliari—almost surely in the month of September,” he said, “because there is a brotherhood between the cities of Buenos Aires and Cagliari because of an ancient story. At the moment of the founding of the city of Buenos Aires its founder wanted to name it ‘City of the Most Holy Trinity’, but the sailors who had brought him there were Sardinian and they wanted it to be called ‘City of the Madonna of Bonaria’. There was an argument and, in the end, they arrived at a compromise. Thus the city’s name turned out rather long: ‘City of the Most Holy Trinity and Port of Our Lady of Bonaria’. Since it was so long only the last [word] remained: Bonaria, Buenos Aires, in memory of your image of the Madonna of Bonaria.” Vatican City, 15 May 2013 (VIS)
When Pope Francis makes his pilgrimage he will see some ex votos (a votive offering in a church or shrine in thanksgiving for a miracle received) hanging in the sacristy corridor and in the sacristy itself, including silver hearts, pictures and models of ships.
And when he reaches the sacristy, built in 1666, the Pope will see that the walls are covered with paintings that depict the remarkable arrival of the Madonna and the Saints of the Order of Our Lady of Mercy whose friars found and opened the wooden case containing the Madonna in 1370.
Pope Francis won’t be the first pope to make a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Bonaria. St Pius X proclaimed the Madonna of Bonaria as the Highest Patron of Sardinia on September 13th 1907. Pope Paul VI made a pilgrimage to Bonaria in 1970, and then Pope John Paul II in 1985. And Pope Benedict XVI was present at the celebration of the first centenary of her proclamation as the highest Patron of Sardinia on 7th September, 2008.