.- Pope Benedict XVI gave thanks for the initial success of efforts to free the first of 33 Chilean copper miners who have been trapped beneath the earth for the more than two months.
At his weekly general audience, Oct. 13, the Pope said that “with hope" he continues to commend the miners to the "divine goodness" of Christ.
The miners have been trapped under a half-mile of rock deep beneath Chile's Atacama Desert since the mine shaft collapsed Aug. 5. Rescue workers originally projected that the miners would be free in late December.
The first of the miners was brought to the surface on Oct. 13 and rescue officials now say it is possible that all will be free within a day.
Pope Benedict XVI has offered prayers for the miners on several occasions during their 69 days underground. He also sent them each of them a rosary, delivered personally by Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz of Santiago, Chile.
Also at his weekly audience, the Pope recalled the anniversary of the final Marian apparition at Fatima, Portugal in 1917. He prayed for the Blessed Mother’s intercession, especially in the lives of young people, the sick and newlyweds.
"To the heavenly Mother of God, I entrust you, dear young people, so that you might generously respond to the call of the Lord," the Pope said. He asked that Mary might be "comfort" for the sorrows of the sick and that she accompany the newly married couples as they begin their families.