News headlines are just about intolerable these days. Then along comes this…

The trapped Chilean coal miners are about to be rescued.

One of three shafts being drilled down to the 33 men trapped in a mine in Chile should reach them by Saturday, the country’s mining minister has said.

Laurence Golborne said the T-130 drill, known as “plan B”, had already carved through 535m (1,755ft) of rock and had only 90m to go.

Once complete, engineers will assess how safe the shaft is before they can begin winching the men to the surface.

Mr Golborne said the miners should have to wait 10 days at most to be rescued.

“We expect to break through around Saturday,” Mr Golborne told reporters….

Of course, that’s provisional. Provided things don’t go wrong with the drilling equipment or the rock it’s boring through, etc…

But this is fantastic. It proves that hope beyond hope is always warranted.

The group of 33 Chilean miners trapped 700 meters (2,300 feet) below ground has made its presence felt in the Vatican, signing a flag that was presented today to Benedict XVI.

The miners have been underground since a cave-in Aug. 5. There is hope that the first drill to reach their refuge will break through on Saturday, and the process of hauling the miners up will begin soon thereafter.

But today, the miners were in the minds of representatives of the Catholic press who met with the Pontiff to conclude a four-day meeting sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

The 230 journalists came from 85 nations, including Chile. Jaime Coiro, director of communications for the Episcopal Conference of Chile, was part of the Chilean delegation.

At the end of the audience, Coiro was able to present the Pope with the flag….

The flag came to be signed by the miners because of the initiative of the wife of one of them, Claudio Yáñez. The woman asked her husband to get the miners to sign a flag so that she could take it to a school.

Yáñez obliged, asking his companions in the mine to sign the flag and adding his own message: “The 33 of us are alive in this refuge” and a dedication to the school.

However, to ensure that the flag would make it to its destination, a second flag was similarly signed. This second flag was given to the director of communications of the Diocese of Copiapo, to be used as an offering in a national meeting of Chilean journalists last week in Santiago.

At that gathering, the journalists decided to send the flag to Rome as a token of gratitude to the local Churches of the world that have shown solidarity with the plight of the miners, and prayed for them.

“But the opportunity to give [the flag] to the Pope was a true surprise,” Coiro explained, “because God speaks through these mysteries.”

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....