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The Holy House of Loreto
Feast of the Translation:  December 10

 

Three miles from the Adriatic coast of Italy, stands the city of Loretto on the summit of a hill. A vast basilica with a great dome forms the most treasured of all the Pope’s "extraterritorial" Vatican State properties, enshrining, as it does, one of the most sacred and important of all Our Lady’s Shrines
—the Home of the Holy Family,
"the Holy House of Loreto."
Written at the door of the basilica are these words:
"The whole world has no place more sacred…
For here was the Word made Flesh,
and here was born the Virgin Mother…"

 

On entering the basilica, beneath the central dome, and just behind the high altar, a rectangular edifice of white marble, richly adorned with statues.
The white marble, however, forms only a protective crust.
The contrast between the exterior richness and the poverty of the interior is startling. Inside are the plain, rough walls of a cottage of great antiquity,
30 feet long by fifteen feet wide and about 15 feet high.
In the center of the House of Our Lady,
there is a replica of a wooden statue of the Madonna.


The original one, made of cedar of Lebanon, arrived at Loreto together with the house, but has since been destroyed.

How this Shrine came to be is a fascinating story.
This is the House of Nazareth, home of the Holy Family,
which had been brought by angels from Nazareth
to the Dalmatian coast, and later,
by the same angels,
transported to Loreto where it stands today
enclosed in the huge Basilica just described.
The history of Loreto is based upon sound tradition
and reliably recorded historical facts.
We know from the visits of witnesses to the Holy Land,
whose journeys were carefully recorded in documents,
that the Holy House of Nazareth was intact in Palestine
at a relatively late date.
St. Louis, King of France, heard Mass in Nazareth in 1253 in the same chamber where the Angel announced the coming of Christ to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

 

In 1291 the last of the Christian soldiers withdrew from Nazareth, leaving behind
the holiest of houses—unprotected.
It was to be dealt with according to the Muslim tradition of pillaging and destruction. It may seem farfetched to think that a tiny clay house venerated by a handful of Christians could merit such vindictive rage. But this was a unique house—visibly an edifice of mud and straw, but preserving within its framework
living memories of its Royal Household—Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

The first assault was that of the Seljukian Turks in 1090.
They rampaged through the Holy Land,
looting the treasures left in churches of the Holy Places
by devout Christian pilgrims.
They turned basilicas and churches into mosques,
and destroyed what was deemed useless
for their unholy purposes.
Among the last class fell the fate of Santa Casa,
home of the Holy Family.
Fortunately, when Blessed Constantine
had the first Basilica built over the holy spot in 312,
the house, along with the grotto that was attached,
was interred within a subterranean crypt.
And so it survived the initial desecrations of Islam.

In the years that followed, a trickle of Christian pilgrims
kept alive the devotion and veneration of the Holy House
where the Word was made Flesh.
Then, when the first Crusaders arrived victorious in 1100
under Tancred, they built a new Basilica.

 

In 1219, Saint Francis of Assisi, whose spiritual sons
were later to be given charge of the Holy House,
visited this "holiest spot on earth" in Nazareth.
It was during the last crusade that St. Louis IX
knelt on the ground that had once been frequented
by Our Lord, and received Him into his heart
in Holy Communion.
The saintly king deemed this to be a far greater privilege
than his earthly royalty.

The year 1263 saw the second destruction of the Basilica,
but again the Holy House miraculously survived
the assaults of the Infidels.
But the defeated Christians eventually withdrew in 1291.
Total destruction finally loomed over the former home
of the Holy Family, as free reign was given
in the Holy Land to its unholy inhabitants.
Eternal Wisdom, however, had other plans!

On the night of May 10th, 1291 the shepherds of Tersatto,
parted company to tend to their flocks.
The lonely fields in Dalmatia and the shepherds who
treaded them daily were well acquainted with each other.
So the sudden appearance of a house
that wasn’t there the night before
caused quite a stir, where, the evening before,
there had been no building, nor any building materials.
Little did they realize
it once had housed the "Morning Star."

The poor, baffled, little shepherds,
not suspecting the workings of Divine grace
in that little hut, inspected it curiously.
The walls did not all evenly touch the ground;
half of them hovered over the road,
and the rest rested in the field.
The tiny structure resembled a church
more than a domestic abode.
The house had an ancient altar, a Greek cross
and a strange statue of a lady.
As they entered it, the air seemed filled
with a heavenly incense.
Indeed it was.
For in this very house, from the root of Jesse,
blossomed the "Mystical Rose."

 

 

The undaunted investigators discovered that
this "chapel" contained an ancient altar,
a beautiful statue of the "Holy Mother of God",
and a Cross bearing her crucified Child.


Realizing it was no ordinary incident,
the shepherds ran off to the local church of St. George
to awaken Father Alexander Georgevich.
The puzzled priest, after investigating
the clay "church" himself, could offer little explanation
to the humble crowd that gathered.
That night the weary old priest, although severely crippled
with arthritis, spent hours in prayer
beseeching enlightenment from the "Virgin Most Powerful."
In his sleep the "Mother of Good Counsel"
rewarded his humility by answering his request
in a dream. "Know that this house," she said,
"is the same in which I was born and brought up.
Here, at the Annunciation,
I conceived the Creator of all things.
Here, the Word of the Eternal Father became Man.
The altar which was brought with the house
was consecrated by Peter, the Prince of the Apostles.
This house has now come to your shores
by the power of God.
And now, in order that you may bear testimony
of all these things, be healed.
Your unexpected and sudden recovery
shall confirm the truth of what I have declared to you."

The sudden disappearance of Father Georgevich’s
familiar malady the next day quite convinced him.
He then announced that it was she,
who is called "Health of the Sick", who had cured him,
and related the vision of the night before.
The peasants of Tersatto now knew for sure
that this was the sacred little home of their Savior.
They venerated it accordingly.

 

The Holy House reached its final destination
on Loreto hill, a few miles away from its previous location,
close to the village of Recanati.
Although they weren’t quite sure of the story behind it,
people began to come in droves to venerate it.
In 1295 a strong wall was built around it,
either for protection, or to keep it from escaping
their humble grasp and making another nightly excursion!

Identification of her sweet little home was clearly unfolded
by the "Virgin of Virgins" herself in 1296
to a saintly hermit who lived nearby.
Immediately the government of Lecanati sent sixteen
of its most reputable citizens to the Holy Land
to investigate the situation.
After an absence of months, the retinue of scientists
returned with the obvious facts.
All they found in Nazareth was the spot, still venerated,
where the house once stood.
The foundation measured up exactly
to that of the House of Loreto: thirteen feet by thirty-one.
The bricks of the local Nazareth habitation
were of the same substance as the Holy House,
whereas the other Lecanati abodes
were completely dissimilar.
The Lecanati representatives were convinced;
this was the House of the Holy Family,
miraculously brought to the shores of Italy
through the Will of God and for His Glory.

Centuries of Italian history are the most dramatic
in the formation of Europe.
But as numerous armies marched from North to South
and South to North, no harm was ever done
to the House of Loreto and to its mystical image.

 

 

Since 1294, it has become one of the greatest shrines
to Our Lady, with pilgrims from all over the world
crowding the roads to Loreto.
Over 2,000 canonized, beatified,
and venerable children of the Church
have paid homage to the "Singular Vessel of Devotion"
by visiting the home in which she was born,
and in which she raised the only-begotten Son of God.

It is a place of many miracles.
Those who have come throughout the ages,
beseeching aid from the "Comforter of the Afflicted",
usually return home spiritually aided or physically cured.

More than fifty Popes have issued Bulls and Papal Briefs testifying to its authenticity.
Hundreds of Papal documents have granted it privileges, exemptions, and authorizations to receive benefits.
In 1669, it was given a Mass of its own in the Missal.
The Litany of Our Lady, that most beautiful
and poetic expression of her virtues,
and her sublime role for both Heaven and Earth,
is named after this Shrine, the Litany of Loreto.

 

 

                

 

 

The Litany of Loretto

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
Christ graciously hear us.

God, the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.

God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.

Holy Mother of God, pray for us.

Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us.

Mother of Christ, pray for us.

Mother of divine grace, pray for us.

Mother most pure, pray for us.

Mother most chaste, pray for us.

Mother inviolate, pray for us.

Mother undefiled, pray for us.

Mother most amiable, pray for us.

Mother most admirable, pray for us.

Mother of good counsel, pray for us.

Mother of our Creator, pray for us.

Mother of our Savior, pray for us.

Virgin most prudent, pray for us.

Virgin most venerable, pray for us.

Virgin most renouned, pray for us.

Virgin most powerful, pray for us.

Virgin most merciful, pray for us.

Virgin most faithful, pray for us.

Mirror of justice, pray for us.

Seat of wisdom, pray for us.

Cause of our joy, pray for us.

Spiritual vessel, pray for us.

Vessel of honor, pray for us.

Singular vessel of devotion, pray for us.

Mystical rose, pray for us.

Tower of David, pray for us.

Tower of ivory, pray for us.

House of gold, pray for us.

Ark of the covenant, pray for us.

Gate of heaven, pray for us.

Morning star, pray for us.

Health of the sick, pray for us.

Refuge of sinners, pray for us.

Comforter of the afflicted, pray for us.

Help of Christians, pray for us.

Queen of Angels, pray for us.

Queen of Patriarchs, pray for us.

Queen of Prophets, pray for us.

Queen of Apostles, pray for us.

Queen of Martyrs, pray for us.

Queen of Confessors, pray for us.

Queen of Virgins, pray for us.

Queen of all Saints, pray for us.

Queen conceived without original sin, pray for us.

Queen assumed into heaven, pray for us.

Queen of the most holy Rosary, pray for us.

Queen of Peace, pray for us.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
graciously hear us O Lord

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

LET US PRAY

Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord God, unto us Thy servants,
that we may rejoice in continual health of mind and body;
and, by the glorious intercession of Blessed Mary ever Virgin, may be delivered from present sadness,
and enter into the joy of Thine eternal gladness.
Through Chrsit our Lord. Amen.