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Madonna statue returned by Britons to Argentina at Vatican

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Pope Francis blesses two statues of Our Lady of Lujan, the original at left, and its replica as he meets with bishops from Britain and Argentina at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019. The original statue of the Virgin Mary, Patroness of Argentina, which was brought to Britain at the end of the Falklands War, will be returned to Argentina and its replica, made in Argentina, will be donated to the Catholic Military Cathedral of St. Michael and St. George in Aldershot, Britain. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has appeared to wipe away tears during a ceremony in St. Peter's Square for the return of a Virgin Mary statue from Britons to Argentina.

Argentine troops had brought a statue of Our Lady of Lujan to the Falkland Islands, or Las Malvinas, when they invaded the British colony in 1982. After the two-month war, the statue ended up in a military cathedral in Britain, where it served as a focus for prayers for dead from both sides.

Following his public audience Wednesday, Francis wiped his eyes and kissed a stone plaque which honors war dead in his Argentine homeland.

The statue is going back to Argentina, while British Catholics will get a replica.

Britain defeated Argentina, which believed the Falklands were illegally taken from it in 1833.