Located in the Marche region of central Italy and close to the Adriatic Coast, Loreto is a special place for Catholic pilgrimage as it is home to the Shrine of the Holy House of the Virgin Mary, located in the Basilica della Casa Santa.
Today we would like to share with you a bit of history about this magnificent Basilica, a place for prayer and reflection, believed to have been a miraculous shrine, and one of our stops on some of our Italy Pilgrimages.
Basilica della Casa Santa
This Late Gothic and Renaissance-style Basilica was built between 1469 to 1587 and according to research, it contains three sides of the house in Nazareth where Mary was born and lived during the time she received the Annunciation from the Archangel Gabriel.
The house consisted of one room, three stone walls and a rock cavern. It is believed that the crusaders carried the three stones from Nazareth to Italy and at that time they would have been deported from Palestine, arriving in Loreto in 1291. Other researchers suggest that the three walls were transferred to Loreto by ship during the Crusades, the same as other relics like Saint Andrew in Amalfi or Saint. Nicholas in Bari.
The fourth side of the Holy House is still in Nazareth.
One legend still celebrated on the 10th of December is the “Translation of the Holy House”, associated with the belief that the walls were transported to Loreto by the angels on the 10th December of 1924, prophecy that has been represented in the Basilica with illustrations across the Holy House. Connected to this legend is the proclamation of Our Lady of Loreto, as the patroness of Aviators in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.
A fourth wall was constructed in Loreto in 1922, housing the statue of the Virgin.
Different artists have worked on the Basilica since its construction in 1469, such as Giuliano da Maiano, Giuliano da Sangallo, who built the dome, or Baccio Pontelli. The facade is built in late Florence Renaissance style and contains the chapels of the nations. The domes also contain the Litany and the Holy Trinity fresco cycle. The main door contains the bronze statue, the Virgin and the child by Girolamo Lombardo.
Another spectacular site to visit during our time in Loreto is the patrol walkways in Loreto Sanctuary or Camminamenti di Ronda a Loreto: a breathtaking structure built in 1485 as a military construction that gives the Basilica the impression of a fortress. Its purpose was to safeguard the Holy House from the Turkish armies. From the patrol walkways, pilgrims can admire the outstanding Adriatic Coast or the Conero Riviera.
In addition, pilgrims can also visit Piazza della Madonna, an important square surrounded by many monuments such as the statue of Sixtus V, the Apostolic Palace and the Fontana Maggiore.
We hope you have enjoyed our article about Loreto and its amazing Holy House shrine.
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