Many religious images in the rescue of Chile miners

How many religious images came to mind during the amazing scenes that played out Wednesday as the trapped miners in Chile ascended safely to the surface!

The rescue of the 33 miners after weeks of prayer and effort seemed like souls being freed from Purgatory. And their reception with joyous family and friends waiting above — with many miners dropping to their knees in thanksgiving, making the sign of the cross, and clutching rosaries — certainly conjured images of a heavenly arrival.

The miners know acutely what it is like to be saved, and in a way even to be born again.

Inspirational stories of faith and prayer were abundant during the ordeal, but one of the most curious is that of the white butterfly seen far underground on the day of the collapse. Some miners claim it was their guardian angel. The story was told in a letter penned by trapped miner Jorge Galeguillos, who saw the butterfly as he was driving in the mineshaft. He slowed his truck down to observe it and that delay may have spared Galeguillos and his passenger when a wall of rock caved in near them.

Experts have no idea how a butterfly could have gotten so far into the mine shaft. Butterflies, you may recall, are sometimes used as a symbol of the resurrection.

“This is a popitious moment for the entire church to unite in faith and hope,” said the president of the Chilean bishops’ conference as the final stage of the rescue began. With all miners now rescued, it’s a moment to unite in thanksgiving. May both the images and the outcome of this remarkable event strengthen our faith and hope for a very long time. — Thomas J. Dermody

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