The Holy See
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Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

Protectress of Civil Aviation

On March 24 1920, Pope Benedict XV proclaimed our Lady of Loreto as universal Patron Saint of all those who travel by air. Such a proclamation happily crowned a cherished wish of some pioneers of aviation.

This choice, explained Pope Benedict XVI, is in accordance with the tradition that attributes to angels the transportation of Mary’s house from Nazareth to Loreto. The Pope, however, added that there is another “flight”, of far greater significance for humanity, of which the Holy House was a witness, “namely the journey of the Archangel Gabriel, who brought to Mary the joyful news that she was to be the Mother of the Son of the Most High (cf. Lk 1:26-32)”.

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 on the airships named 'Norge' and 'Italia', used by Umberto Nobile in flying over the North Pole (1926 and 1928). It was in the 'Santa Maria', the S.55 airplane which Francesco Pinedo used in crossing the Atlantic Ocean (1927).

The astronaut McDivitt, out of his own volition, got the permission to bring a medal of Our Lady of Loreto on the first LEM, on the Apollo 9 flight in March 1969.