Mario Sepúlveda Espinace Returned Bearing Gifts

A makeshift altar near the mineshaft in Chile, cribbed from here

Obviously, we are all watching the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners–Operation San Lorenzo–and it is so moving and inspiring – a rare moment when the world can rejoice together. Heroes from all over the world have gathered and drilled as millions throughout the globe prayed and hoped, and then, finally, we watched that exquisite moment when the first miner to ascend, Florencio Ávalos Silva and his wife and son embraced. Chills.

And then, after a brief wait, the second miner emerges from the rescue capsule with great joy; he embraces his wife and then opens a bag to retrieve…gifts.

For others.

In the midst of all of this drama, all of the lights and excitement and concern, and at a moment when a man could reasonably be excused for thinking only of himself, Mario Sepulveda Espinace thought about others, and he brought them gifts.

Rocks? Rocks containing gold? It doesn’t matter. Mario Sepulveda Espinace crested the top of a hole from which he thought he might never escape, and his first instinct was to give. That’s a thing worth writing about, and thinking about and praying about. I wish I had a picture of that moment! How huge and resilient is the human spirit?

We were already witnessing something jaw-dropping and near-miraculous. And a man arose bearing gifts, and it got even better, for everyone in the world who was paying attention.

Wow. I’m so glad I didn’t go to bed after the first miner came out!

And I’m remembering this.


I love this tweet: Rocks! Of course!…what presence of mind…and generosity of spirit…and sense of humor…and grace.

So right! And so well said.

I love this too:

“There are actually 34 of us,” the nineteen-year-old miner wrote in a letter sent up from the mine on Tuesday, “because God has never left us down here.” –Chilean miner, Jimmy Sanchez

UPDATE II: I was thinking this morning that if a fiction writer (or Hollywood) had tried to write this story, they could not have. First off, they’d probably turn it into a Lord of the Flies scenario, (or “Lost”) but even if they did not, they would be compelled (or encouraged) to omit much of the religious angle of the story, and then, would the story of 33 he-men types who don’t kill each other, who find a way to live peaceably and generously (and even with grace) while trapped below the earth ever find a publisher? Doubtful. This is a story that only real-life could tell, and if we’re really listening, we can learn a lot from it about how wrong we’re getting things up here above – in our values, our cynicism, our lowered expectations about everyone around us and everything. Lots to think about.

Deacon Greg: “What’s God got to do with it?”

Michelle Malkin links. Thank you!

“God and the devil fought over me, and God won!”

Also writing:
Hot Air
Sr. Lisa Doty
Gateway Pundit
Rome Reports
Daily Beast
Wall Street Journal Liveblogging it
Sundries Shack

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Pingback: Michelle Malkin » Celebrating American greatness…in Chile; Update: Live rescue video link added; brief Obama statement; 10:45pm ET 1st rescuer in the mine; 1st miner sent up!; 11:17pm ET SAFE. 32 more to go; Pinera: “[Q]ue gratitud con D

  • Alan

    Choked up reading this….beautiful

  • Kurtis

    Mario set a pretty high standard for unexpected actions upon being rescued. The jokes apparently started as he was climbing in the cage and started again before it even reached the surface.

  • Pat Gohn

    Here we are amidst “respect life” month… cheering the gift of life, Life, LIFE!

    The human drama: from the depths of despair when the miners were first trapped so many days ago… to the jubilation of their release — and at this hour it is still a rescue operation, only 3 have come above ground thus far — it just proves how we are all connected in the human family.

    Let us pray for their health and family reunions, and for miners around the world.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention The Anchoress | A First Things Blog --

  • AMDG

    I loved Mario firing up the crowd, it was inspiring and funny.

  • Pingback: God has never left us down here « nunspeak

  • Susan T.W.

    I stayed up to see the first miner come up, and so sorry to have missed watching a bit more. Not only are the miners impressive in how they handled their ordeal, those who worked diligently finding a way to get them out are to be congratulated. The government and the families did not give up on their men in the mine. God bless them as they and their families go through an adjustment time. They still need prayer.

  • John H. Jensen

    What a wonderful story of survival, faith 7 thank,international coperation/collaboration. We all have much to learn from these men and their families. Mario is a real hero and a class act!

  • Teresa

    I noticed the news media seems to be studiously avoiding discussion of the religeous angle. If it was not for this blog nobody would have seen the makeshift alter.

  • Teresa

    Please excuse the incorrect spelling of altar. On that note, when three miners were trapped in my hometown during the 60s, we set up coffee and donuts stands for the rescuers. We also held daily novenas at the site and it was widely reported by the media back then. Times have certainly changed.

  • Jane

    When I read weeks ago that they had built a shrine to the Blessed Virgin, I knew they would be rescued. Praise be to God.

  • Pingback: Bookworm Room » Rare grace

  • Mary Spence

    An altar, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the brotherhood of man, and an abundance of miracles continue to keep faith and hope alive–prayers answered. God is great!

  • Mary Spence


    May God continue to bring them all back safe and sound.

  • Jenny

    I stayed up with my five year old daughter to watch the first miner come out. I had the TV on and she asked why I was watching the news and not a football game. I explained to her what happened and how long the men had been underground and now they were being rescued. She got very excited! So we watched the news together.

    As we watched, she explained that we all were underground compared to God. That God was higher than we are, so we are underground too.

    When the first miner came out, she was so happy. But then I told her it was time to turn the TV off since it was after 10. She wanted to keep watching, so I let her watch a few more minutes. But then sleep got the better of both of us.

    I laughed this morning when I heard the next man came up bearing rocks.

  • dry valleys

    I have to say I was expecting at least one fatality, I am very pleased not to see it happen. Remarkable stuff.

    Now I hope for two things, that the firms in question will make every effort possible to prevent such a thing happening again, & that they manage to get a comfortable retirement out of it. I heard that they will divide the publicity revenue equally amongst themselves, which testifies to the solidarity amongst them.

    That is what you would expect, & no one should be surprised that they battled so hard to defend their livelihood. My granddad had been in the Polish forces in Britain & became a miner on entering civilian life, & the spirit was the same. I would attribute the fact that it ended well less to the religion than to the fact that they had been bonded by doing such a job. You wouldn’t get that in the “service” “industry”.

    If only 32 men had been rescued I don’t think they would have felt true relief.

  • Eliza Jane

    Pat Gohn, I had the same thought…we are all praying so hard for 33 lives….because there is still a chance that all 33 will survive. We’ll all feel badly if even one doesn’t make it out alive. If this prayer going around the world for these 33 lives doesn’t show how precious every single life is, what can? Funny that Jesus was 33 yrs old too.

    Something else that I find amazing – apparently rescuers actually went down in the capsule first to test it and are down there now with the miners. If there’s a snafoo, they will need rescuing as well.

  • Pingback: “I met God. I met the Devil. God won.”

  • Pingback: In Chile, inspiration rises from a half mile down in the earth! « Sharp Right Turn

  • Tony

    Love your comments in Update II about how Hollywood wouldn’t know what to do with this story. I suspect though that it may be turned into a film one day that critics deride for being overly saccharine and religious.

  • dry valleys

    Who has it in them to be a hero?

    I like this journalist- excellent view of events as usual.

  • newton

    I just saw a scene that brought tears to my eyes.

    The latest miner rescued, No. 18, knelt on the ground right after he was let go from the pod, made the sign of the Cross, gave thanks to God, and then tightly hugged his mom (?), who held a small shroud of “La Guadalupe” close to her torso.

  • Ellen

    Newton, I just saw that same scene. I got all teary eyed too.

  • newton

    El diecinueve (No. 19) is out.

  • newton

    I guess No. 19′s son just received him before he went on to be examined by doctors.


    On another note, hopefully some will know the difference between the Chilean and Texan flag… Some county here in TX made that mistake in voter registration information.


  • newton

    Pod going down for el número veinte (No. 20)…

    (Sorry, I only know them by order of being let out…)

  • Brook

    Please look carefully at the writing on their shirts. It says:

    “Thanks to God!”

  • newton

    El número veinte (No. 20) is out!

    Now, for el número veintiuno (No. 21)

  • newton

    “Please look carefully at the writing on their shirts. It says:

    “Thanks to God!”


    I’ve been trying to have a glimpse of the words on their T-shirts and read the contents. How did you find that out?

  • newton

    El número veintiuno (No. 21) is out!

  • newton


    I just saw it on the front of the T-shirts: “¡Gracias Señor!”

    Trying to look on the back…

  • Pingback: Afternoon Links — 10.13.10 » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog

  • Ruth Anne

    I wonder who’ll bring up the frankincense and who’ll carry the myrrh?

  • newton

    El número veintidós (No. 22) – out!

  • newton

    El número veintitrés (No. 23) – out!

    My goodness! He’s just a kid!

  • newton

    It’s advancing quicker than I thought. The first ones took each an hour, maybe a little more. But the last three took less than half an hour each.

  • newton

    El número veinticuatro (No. 24) – out!

  • newton

    The relatives are playing and singing something I used to sing as a young one:

    I will praise / I will praise / I will praise My Lord!

    John saw the number of the redeemed / those who were praising the Lord;
    Some sang / while others prayed / but they all praised the Lord.

    (That little part was from the 144 thousand saints in heaven, from the Book of Revelations.)

  • newton

    El número veinticinco (No. 25) – out!

  • newton

    I think I know what the back of those T-shirts say. It seems to be the Lord’s Prayer (Our Father, etc.).

  • newton

    El número veintiséis (No. 26) – out!

  • newton

    By nine o’ clock ET, this whole thing is gonna be done, Gool Lord willing…

  • newton

    El número veintisiete (No. 27) – out!

    He seems to love soccer – received a soccer ball from a relative. The President of Chile told him that he just finished the most important game of his life – the game for his life.

  • newton

    El número veintiocho (No. 28) – out!

    Five more!!!!!

  • newton

    OK, if you’re asking why I’m on this:

    1. I have livefeed of this event on my computer.

    2. My girls are sick this week. Making dinner.

  • newton

    El número veintinueve (No. 29) – out!

    Four more!!!!

  • newton

    Nope, it’s not the Lord’s Prayer.

    It’s Psalms 95:4

    “In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.”

  • newton

    El número treinta (No. 30) – out!

  • Elaine S.

    Only three more to go! They are really moving along now.

    I notice that on other (secular) news blogs there are frequent comments from aggresively agnostic or atheist folk saying, “God had nothing to do with their survival, it was all man’s doing.”

    But why is there necessarily any contradiction? That is like saying that the rescue capsule saved these men all by itself and the operators and builders had nothing to do with it! God gave these miners, rescuers, engineers, and government officials the brains and ability and patience and perseverance to do what they did. All they had to do was USE those talents, and they have.