The first mass in Argentina was celebrated on April 1, 1520. Half a millennium later, Pope Francis’ native country was preparing to celebrate the event with dignity, but the ceremonies were canceled at the last moment, due to the pandemic which extends across the country.
Puerto San-Julian is a city in the province of Santa Cruz (Argentina), located in Patagonia. The modest city of more than 6,000 souls should have been the scene of a milestone anniversary on April 1, 2020: the 500-year anniversary of the first Catholic mass celebrated on Argentinian soil.
Located in Patagonia, Puerto San-Julian is indeed famous as the place where Magellan landed during his world tour, on March 31, 1520. The sacrifice of Christ was first offered on one of the caravels of the expedition.
The diocese of Rio Gallegos- on which Puerto San Julian depends- had worked out all the details for what was to be a very important feast, and several thousand faithful from all over the country planned to come for the celebration.
But the bishop of Rio Gallegos, Monsignor Garcia Cuerva, had to backtrack after having met with civil authorities, and taking into account the confinement that the country decided to impose, the Argentine prelate canceled the planned festivities.
As it is already the case in other countries, it is in their homes, on their television, on their connected screens, that the Argentines could attend the commemoration of the fist mass celebrated half a millennium ago on their land.