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Though they are irreverent, uneducated, and in many cases openly sinning (one among their number becomes well-known to have had both a wife and a mistress), the 33 Chilean miners who would endure an extended period of time trapped by a mine cave-in were veritably soaking in Catholic culture before that experience.

there is a cross hanging from the rear-view mirror of the vehicle they drive in on.

There is a cross hanging from the rear-view mirror of the vehicle they drive in on.

They spend their above-ground existence surrounded by symbols of Catholicism, live in what is presumably a Catholic country, and, it is implied, are heartfelt in their displays of piety and deployment of prayer.

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The miners make the Sign of the Cross and perhaps say a little prayer in front of this Catholic statue located near the entrance of the mine.

Rev. Alfredo Cooper, chaplain to Chilean President Sebastian Pineira noted how prayer played a central role in the chief executive’s deliberations over the miners’ rescue. As for the miners themselves, the Catholic priest said, “Many were Catholics, but many went down without any faith at all, many were nominal in their faith. And they all say this: ‘We were not 33, we were 34 because Jesus Christ was with us down there.’ “

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This shrine, seen near the beginning of the movie, before any hint of trouble, seems to have been assembled to memorialize a fellow miner who died in the mine on a previous occasion.

In real life, after the rescue effort drilled a narrow hole which allowed food and small items to be sent down to the miners by capsule, one among them asked for 33 small bibles so that he could lead a prayer group; and the oldest among them, called by the others the “pastor” (though he was not ordained) requested a crucifix and statues of Catholic saints so he could construct a subterranean shrine.  One of the miners claimed after surfacing that while confined underground, they prayed to St. Lorenzo (San Lorenzo), patron saint of miners.  It was group cohesion and very disciplined rationing of very limited provisions (food for 30 was stretched to feed 33 over more days than the food was intended to last) which was partially responsible for keeping them alive long enough for the rescue efforts to successfully drill down deep enough to get to them.

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Religious procession and prayer vigil for the miners held by their friends and families at Camp Hope.

Religious procession and prayer vigil for the miners held by their friends and families at Camp Hope.

In an interview, director Patricia Riggen said:Camp Hope became a city of thousands. Everything was happening up there. It was a circus. I put nuns and fortune tellers and newsstands and restaurants and everything I could put there. They had all of that and more.”

Catholicism wasn't the only religion represented at Camp Hope. Here is an example of Native American folk beliefs in action with a blessing reflecting folk beliefs, polytheistic in orientation, given to one of the rescue workers.

Catholicism wasn’t the only religion represented at Camp Hope. Here is an example of Native American folk beliefs in action with a blessing reflecting folk beliefs, polytheistic in orientation, given to one of the rescue workers.

Catholic publications credit the power of prayer and claim the ultimate happy ending, the rescue of the miners, was a miracle of divine intervention:

All 33 miners survived the collapse, but not without a little help from God, Hall said.

“There was really no technology or design to get people out that deep – in the kind of conditions they were in,” Hall said. “All the computer models, all the calculations, showed that we would fail.”

What was perhaps Hall’s greatest challenge came the day his equipment finally reached the miners. He and his team had drilled to within 400 feet from the space where the miners were trapped. At that point, their drill got stuck and it seemed they would have to defy the laws of physics to push onward.

“All the calculations had proven out that we were just beyond the parameters of what was technically possible,” Hall said.

In that moment, Hall prayed a prayer he said he would never forget.

“I told God, ‘We’ve done everything that we can do, Lord. Those are 33 of your children down there. We’ve done everything we can do. If you want to get them out, you’re going to have to send your holy angels down and dig my bit out, because we’re finished’.”

And then, his bit began to move – which Hall maintains was a miracle.

“I’ve told everybody that that job can’t be done,” he said. “I didn’t do that job. God drilled that hole, and I just had a good seat. It just shows that our Lord … is working in this world … and a billion people saw it.”

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