The name of Argentina’s capital city, Buenos Aires, comes from the name given to a settlement in the present-day city’s suburb of San Telmo, by Spanish explorer Pedro de Mendoza in 1536: Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Ayre (translated to English as Our Lady Saint Mary of the Good Air (or Fair Wind)).
By 1541, it was abandoned, but in 1580, another explorer, Juan de Garay, established a new settlement nearby and resurrected the name, calling the port area Puerto de Nuestra Señora la Virgen María de los Buenos Aires.
Invocation of the Virgin Mary was common by European mariners of the period in the hope that she would aid navigation and protect them from the dangers of the sea. That belief appears to stem from the story of the Madonna of Bonaria in Sardinia, a statue in a crate aboard a ship sailing in stormy seas near Italy. In an effort to save the ship, the crate was tossed into the sea, upon which the storm was immediately calmed.