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Today’s technology confirms that cuts found in the stones resemble those found in Nazareth and that the building materials and technique correspond to those used in the Holy Land. There are inscriptions in modified Greek characters with adjoining Hebrew letters that read “O Jesus Christ, Son of God,” written in the same style inscribed in the Grotto in Nazareth. In addition, the house has no foundation, something you would expect it to have if were in its’ original location.
HOW DID THE HOUSE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN END UP IN ITALY?
Modern research suggests that the Holy House, like many relics from the Holy Land, may have been transported by ship at the conclusion of the Crusades.
Famed throughout the world for the Holy House of Mary, Loreto has been an important pilgrimage destination for nearly eight centuries.
The Holy House of Loreto comprises three walls of stacked stones and is safeguarded beneath an ornate Renaissance-era basilica. It is believed that Mary grew up in this house and that the Annunciation took place in it.
Of course Mary’s house should be in Israel’s Galilee region. Indeed, in Nazareth today, there is another basilica – that of the Annunciation – built over a grotto where it is believed Mary grew up and was visited by the Archangel Gabriel. Today’s Nazareth basilica is the largest church in the Middle East.
So, how did the walls get to Loreto? For many centuries, tradition held that angels miraculously carried the Holy House from Nazareth to Loreto. Throughout the basilica are numerous artistic depictions of angels flying over the seas with the house. For this reason, at the request of pilots returning home after World War I, Pope Benedict XV declared Our Lady of Loreto as the patroness of pilots and airmen on March 24, 1920.
Yet, modern research suggests that the Holy House, like many relics from the Holy Land, may have been transported by ship at the conclusion of the Crusades. In the early 1900s, a priest and papal archivist was going through Vatican documents when he came upon a record detailing items that were brought out of the Holy Land during the Crusades.
He discovered that a Greek merchant with the surname Angelos paid crusaders to move the house to Italy as part of a wedding dowry for his daughter, who was betrothed to a nobleman from Taranto. Some suggest that the etymological roots of his name led to the tradition of the “Angels” bringing the house to Italy.
Though there is no way to prove how the house arrived in Loreto, there is plenty of evidence to demonstrate that the walls are from the Nazareth basilica.
The most convincing evidence is the discovery of ancient Christian and Marian graffiti markings on the Loreto walls similar to those found in ancient Judeo-Christian churches in Palestine. There is one virtually identical mark, in fact, on one of the Loreto walls as well as in the Nazareth grotto.
Today inside the Holy House of Loreto is the famous statue of the Black Madonna. Sculpted in cedar of Lebanon, it was created in the likeness of an ancient icon of Mary that was once displayed in the same niche and is believed to have been painted by St. Luke. Also in the Holy House is an ancient altar called the “Altar of the Apostles.”
Over the centuries, countless pilgrims have visited Loreto, including many saints. There have also been numerous miracles and conversions. Testifying to graces received are displays of gifts and “ex-voto” medals given to the church by the faithful out of gratitude for blessings received through the intercession of Our Lady of Loreto. To this day, a commission of doctors meets periodically in Loreto to review reports of miraculous healings.
MARIAN IMAGE OF OUR LADY OF LORETO
The original statue, dating back to the 14th century, is an image of the Black Madonna with the Christ Child, both of whom are covered since the 16th century with a jewelled mantle. It was stolen by Napoleonic troops in 1797 and taken to Paris. It was returned with the Treaty of Tolentino and ended up in Rome, from where the image made an eight-day journey as a pilgrim Madonna, arriving in Loreto on 9 December 1801. During the absence of the original statue from the Holy House, a copy made of poplar wood was placed in the niche and remains the only copy to have been venerated in the Holy House.
In 1921, a raging fire broke out inside the Holy House which incinerated the sculpture. At the request of Pope Pius XI, a new image similar to the original was immediately carved, using the wood of a cedar of Lebanon from the Vatican Gardens. It was modelled by Enrico Quattrini and completed and painted by Leopoldo Celani. In 1922, the statue was crowned in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican and solemnly transported to Loreto.
In the 1600s, a Mass and a Marian litany was approved. This “Litany of Loreto” is the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one of the five litanies approved for public recitation by the Church.
In 1920 Pope Benedict XV declared the Madonna of Loreto PATRON SAINT OF AIR TRAVELLERS AND PILOTS.
Due to Our Lady of Loreto being the patroness of pilots, Charles Lindbergh took a Loreto statuette with him on his flight across the Atlantic, and Apollo 9 carried a Loreto medal on its flight to the moon.
Popes have always held the Shrine of Loreto in special esteem, and it is under their direct authority and protection. In a homily in 1995, Saint Pope John Paul II called the Holy House of Loreto, “the house of all God’s adopted children.”
LITANY OF LORETO
The Litany of Loreto, so called because of its use in the sanctuary of Loreto (Italy) since at least as far back as 1531, was officially approved in 1587 by Pope Sixtus V. Its origin is believed to be a medieval rhymed litany influenced by Eastern Marian devotion. The Litany of Loreto is the only approved Marian litany.
The 1587 version of the Litany of Loreto was subsequently enriched with new advocations.
1675 Queen of the most Holy Rosary (for the confraternities of the Holy Rosary)
1883 Queen Conceived without Original Sin (Leo XIII for the whole Church)
1903 Mother of Good Counsel (Leo XIII)
1917 Queen of Peace (Benedict XV)
1950 Queen Assumed into Heaven (Pius XII)
1980 Mother of the Church (John Paul II)
1995 Queen of Families (John Paul II)
2020 Mother of Mercy
Mother of Hope
Comforter of Migrants