The title Our Lady of Loreto is linked to the Holy House of Loreto, the supposed birthplace of Mary and the site of the Annunciation, housing an ancient statue of Our Lady.
On October 7, 2019, Pope Francis directed the inclusion of Our Lady of Loreto in the General Roman Calendar, designating her celebration as an Optional Memorial on December 10.
Over 150 canonized saints, popes, and royalty have made pilgrimages to Loreto, making it a significant Marian center.
The Loreto shrine is held in special esteem by popes, and placed under their direct authority and protection.
|Our Lady of Loreto History
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Our Lady of Loreto History
The Loreto shrine’s tradition dates back to 1291 when, as the last crusaders returned to Western Europe, they transported relics and objects from holy shrines.
Among these was the dwelling of the Blessed Virgin Mary, believed to be the site of the Annunciation and the Incarnation. The house arrived in Loreto on December 10, 1294.
Inside the Holy House is the “Altar of the Apostles,” thought to be constructed by the Apostles after Jesus’ Ascension, with Saint Peter offering the first Mass.
The altar also features a wooden statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary holding the Christ Child. This statue is a replica of an earlier one destroyed in a fire in the early 20th century.
Legend suggests that on May 12, 1291, angels transported the Holy House from Nazareth to Tersatto (Trsat), Croatia, where it remained for three and a half years.
The locals, surprised by its arrival, found an altar with a cedar statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary holding the Christ Child.
Later, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a priest in the Holy House, confirming its sacred origin and healing the priest as proof.
The Holy House became a local pilgrimage site, but on December 10, 1294, angels moved it again to Italy, leaving behind a replica in Tersatto, marked by the Shrine of Our Lady of Trsat and a Franciscan monastery.
Upon arriving in Italy, the Holy House supposedly landed on a hill near Ancona, where a shrine stands today.
In 1295, it moved to a laurel grove near Recanati and, eight months later, to a farm owned by the Antici brothers.
Finally, it settled in its current location in Loreto, Italy. The name “Loreto” may derive from “lauretum,” meaning “place of laurels.”
The people initially did not know the house’s origin until the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a hermit, revealing its history and significance.
The hermit shared the story with the townspeople, who verified it by traveling to Tersatto and Nazareth. Today, the Holy House is enshrined in a marble frame within the Basilica of the Holy House in Loreto.
While a historical account from 1900 suggests that the Byzantine Angeli family funded the relocation of the Holy House, the tradition of angelic transport persists.
Scientific evidence, such as the origin of the materials and the lack of dismantling, supports the miraculous transport theory.
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