Catholics are called to “fly high” toward God and toward holiness, letting Jesus be their “pilot,” said Archbishop Fabio Dal Cin, papal delegate of the Italian Shrine of Our Lady of Loreto. The archbishop was speaking as events began to mark a jubilee year centered around Our Lady of Loreto,

Pope Francis proclaimed the Lauretan Jubilee, which opened on 8 December, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Monsignor Fabio Dal Cin announced the Jubilee year on 25 June which he said Pope Francis has granted “for all air, military and civil travellers and for all those that will arrive as pilgrims, from all over the world, to the Shrine of the Holy House of Loreto.

The jubilee marks the 100th anniversary of the papal proclamation of Our Lady of Loreto as patron saint of aviators and those who work in aviation or travel by air. It will be celebrated until 10 December 2020 with the motto “Loreto Jubilee: Called to Fly High.”

For hundreds of years, the Shrine of the Holy House of Loreto has been among the most popular destinations for Marian devotees in Italy.  Located roughly 153 miles northeast of Rome, Loreto is home to what’s believed to be the house in which the Virgin Mary was born, where she was visited by the Archangel Gabriel, where she subsequently conceived Jesus through the Holy Spirit, and where the Holy Family later lived.

The Pontifical Delegate for the Shrine said that the Loreto Jubilee is a gift for which we must first of all thank Pope Francis, who has granted it with benevolence, as one more occasion of grace after his visit to Loreto last March 25, where he signed the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit on young people.

In the prayer composed for the Jubilee, the Holy Father invites us to pray as follows: “When we are elevated in flight, our spirit is also elevated.” The flight of planes thus becomes a metaphor of our existence. We are all called to fly high, because God offers all the possibility of a good life, namely, a holy life.

The Loreto Jubilee began formally on Sunday 8 December 8  with the rite of Opening of the Holy Door of the Basilica of the Holy House, presided over by the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.

The Italian airline Alitalia will fly a statue of Our Lady of Loreto to 20 civilian airports throughout the country during the Jubilee year; the statue will stay in the airport chapels for a two-week period of veneration. Alitalia also has promised to fly another copy of the statue internationally, beginning with the pope’s hometown, Buenos Aires.

In addition to the Jubilee, Pope Francis has decreed that the optional memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto should be inscribed in the Roman Calendar on 10 December, the day on which the feast falls in Loreto, and celebrated every year.

According to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, “This celebration will help all people, especially families, youth and religious to imitate the virtues of that perfect disciple of the Gospel, the Virgin Mother, who, in conceiving the Head of the Church also accepted us as her own.”

ENDS