VATICAN CITY — Since many of the celebrations of the Our Lady of Loreto jubilee year were grounded because of the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis has extended the celebration to December 2021.
“In this difficult time for humanity, Holy Mother Church has gifted us another 12 months to start again from Christ, allowing ourselves to be accompanied by Mary, a sign of consolation and certain hope for all,” said Archbishop Fabio Dal Cin, the pontifical delegate for the Shrine of Our Lady of Loreto, Italy.
The jubilee year began Dec. 8, 2019, to mark the 100th anniversary of the declaration of Our Lady of Loreto as the patron saint of aviation, aviators and air travelers. According to pious tradition, Mary’s house in Nazareth was flown by angels to Italy in 1294 after a brief stop in Yugoslavia.
Special pilgrimages and prayer services were scheduled for the Loreto shrine, but also at military air bases and in civilian airport chapels around the world. The jubilee celebrations were to conclude this year on the Dec. 10 feast of Our Lady of Loreto, but many of the events never took place.
The chapels at O’Hare International Airport and Midway Airport are official pilgrimage sites for the jubilee year. Pope Francis granted a plenary indulgence to those making pilgrimages to Loreto this year and to those who make a pilgrimage to an airport chapel.
Celebrations for a jubilee year at the chapels of O’Hare and Midway airports had just gotten underway when COVID-19 hit and airline travel was drastically curtailed.