So much for popes being out of touch or behind the times. Benedict XVI has been dubbed the “Green Pope” for his truly progressive efforts to conserve natural resources and urging us to love all of God’s creatures. Now he’s the first pope to speak with astronauts while they’re in outer space.
But the astronauts on Space Shuttle Endeavor found that this Holy Father isn’t one to merely pontificate. He said, “[T]his is a conversation, so I must not be the only one doing the talking.” He requested their spiritual reflections from space and spoke directly to Mark Kelly, Catholic husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
“From the space situation, you have a very different view of the earth,” said Pope Benedict. “You fly over continents and nations several times a day. I think it must be obvious to you how we all live together on one Earth and how absurd it is that we fight and kill each one [another].
“I know that Mark and his wife was a victim of serious attack and I hope her health continues to improve.
“When you’re contemplating the earth from up there, do you ever wonder about the way that nations and people live together down here; about how science can contribute to the cause of peace?”
Commander Kelly said, “Well, thank you for the kind words, Your Holiness, and thank you for mentioning my wife Gabby.”
His answer was apolitical, noting that usually people fight over resources. “On the space station, you know, the science and technology that we put into this space station to develop a solar power capability, gives us pretty much unlimited amount of energy. And if those technologies could be adopted more on Earth, we could possibly reduce some of that violence.”
Watch the heavenly conversation below:
Speaking of popes in keeping with the times, way back in 1920 Pope Benedict XV proclaimed Our Lady of Loreto universal Protectress of Pilots and Air Travelers. Interesting for a number of reasons, including the fact that the Holy House of Loreto had been transported from Nazareth to present-day Croatia during the Crusades in order to save it from jihadists.
This house is where Saint Mary grew up, where the Archangel Gabriel appeared to announce she’d be the Mother of Jesus, and where the Holy Family lived. After the ascension of Christ, the Apostles made it into a church and it became a place of Christian pilgrimage.
By some accounts, the house was transported by angels. By other theories, Crusaders dissembled and shipped it first to Croatia, then Italy. The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property wrote about Professor Giorgio Nicolini’s life of study and research into the case. He spoke at a conference entitled “The Story of the Incredible Move of the House of Mary of Nazareth to Loreto,” hosted Amici del Timone Cultural Center in Staggia Senese, Italy, where he showed the historic and scientific evidence that angels must have transported the house.
Whatever the case, some famous pilots and astronauts took Our Lady of Loreto quite seriously.
According to the Vatican: “The image of Our Lady of Loreto is linked to some well-known flights in the history of aviation: It was on the ‘Spirit of St. Louis’, the aircraft with which Charles Lindbergh (1927) flew over the Atlantic Ocean without any stopover and in the balloons named ‘Norge’ and ‘Italia’, used by Umberto Nobile in flying over the North Pole (1926 and 1928); in the ‘Santa Maria’, the S.55 airplane with which Francesco Pinedo (1927) crossed the Atlantic.
“The astronaut [James] McDivitt, out of his own volition, got the permission to bring a medal of Our Lady of Loreto on the first lunar ‘lem’ during the Apollo 9 flight in March 1969.”
The Feast of Our Lady of Loreto is December 10. Read The Catholic Encyclopedia’s history here.
Update 2016: TFP’s article is “Science Confirms: Angels Took the House of Our Lady of Nazareth to Loreto” by Luis Dufaur.
The Holy House of Loreto website is here. Countless miracles have occurred there. If only we could tap the scientific archives online.
Click here to see “Translation of the Holy House” by Annibale Carracci and read the history of it.