Chile – Temple of Mary Help of Christians in Santiago Centro is now a shrine

06 June 2022

(ANS - Santiago) - The Temple of Mary Help of Christians in the center of Santiago, the capital of Chile, experienced a historic day last May 24: during the celebration of the patronal feast day, the church was officially recognized as a Shrine of Mary Help of Christians.

The solemn celebration was also broadcast live on social networks and began with a greeting from representatives of the Salesian Family groups and the Vicar of the Centro area of Santiago, Fr. Francisco Llanca. Indeed, for those following the live broadcast, there was also an opportunity to participate in a quiz on the church’s history. Next, the polyphonic choir of the University of Santiago de Chile (USACH) performed a concert in honor of the Help of Christians.

After this rich preview, the central and fundamental moment of the celebration began, the Eucharist for the Feast of Mary Help of Christians. Presiding over it was the Cardinal Archbishop of Santiago, Msgr. Celestino Aós, flanked at the altar by Auxiliary Bishop Msgr. Alberto Lorenzelli, SDB; the Provincial of the Salesians of Chile, Fr. Carlo Lira; and other Salesians.

During his homily, Cardinal Aós recalled the history of the shrine, its beginnings in 1857 with the laying of the foundation stone and the taking possession of the congregation in 1891. He then manifested that "going hand in hand with Mary is the best way to get to Jesus and going hand in hand with Jesus is the best way to live." He then also recalled Don Bosco's words and urged, "Always be true devotees of Mary. By imitating her virtues, you will experience the sweet effects of her goodness and love."

After the homily, the solemn event took place: first, the Chancellor of the Archdiocese, Francisca San Martin, read the decree by which the Church of Mary Help of Christians was recognized as a Shrine, after more than 130 years of management and care by the Salesians. Then, that decree was signed, and subsequently, Fr. Bernardo García, SDB, made a profession of faith and fidelity as Rector of the Shrine for a period of three years.

During the offertory procession, along with the Bread and Wine, a stole, the Constitutions of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA), and the oil of the sick were also brought to the altar: three signs meant to recall priestly ministry, the 135th anniversary of the arrival of the first FMA in Chile, and the healing and consoling presence of God among those who suffer.

On the sidelines of the celebration Fr. García said a few words of thanks, "I am moved - emotionally. Thank you to all the movements and groups of the Salesian Family. This must be a sanctuary with open doors, that always has a big heart to welcome, lift up and even encourage to faith and life. Thank you for this beautiful moment."

For his part, Fr. Lira added, "Spreading love for Mary is part of our identity. The commitment of all of us is that our devotion does not remain something intimate, but is transformed into life. May we live up to this challenge by taking responsibility for making it a shrine of life and spreading trust, faith, hope, and love."

After the thought also offered by Sister Ximena Oyarzo, FMA Provincial of Chile - who manifested that "we are happy to be in her house, to invoke her and thank her" - the celebration ended with the prayer of consecration to Mary Help of Christians, during which Cardinal Aós prayed for a prophetic Church, which knows how to put Jesus at the center, with these words. "Make us avoid all elitism and clericalism and help us to create the conditions and ecclesial dynamics so that every person, in whatever situation they find themselves, can discover Him who lives and waits for us in Galilee."


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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