Loreto, Italy: Sanctuary of The Holy House……Site of the Annunciation
The Story of the Holy House of Loreto
One of the holiest and most popular pilgrimage destinations in Italy is Loreto, located on the East Coast of Italy. Tradition tells us that this is the house where our Blessed Mother was conceived and born, grew up, and where the Archangel Gabriel appeared and asked her to become the Mother of God.
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 syncopated Greek characters with contiguous 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.
Among the many miracles reported here is one concerning the future Pope Pius IX. For an interesting account of the miracle, we recommend this article from the Women of Grace blog.
The Empress Helena made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, including Nazareth, in 336 A.D. where the Holy House was reputed to be located. She later had a basilica, the Basilica of the Annunciation, built over the site.
The story of how the Holy House ended up here is an interesting one but not well documented. There are two versions to the story, and you are free to believe either one.
With the imminent fall of the Holy Land to the Turks, the Holy House itself was in danger.
In the traditional story we are told that the angels transported the home from Nazareth to Dalmatia (modern-day Croatia) in 1291 and the Blessed Virgin Mary actually appeared there and many miracles were reported. The house was again transported to the hilltop town of Loreto, Italy in December of 1294.
Another version of the story tells of a wealthy family in the Holy Land, the Angeli Family, who paid to have the house dismantled and then reassembled in Italy. The name Angeli is translated as “angel” in both Latin and Italian.
About the Sanctuary of the Holy House:
When you visit Loreto, you will see a large Basilica as shown in the photo here. The church was erected under Pope Sixtus V, and subsequent additions are the result of countless architects. The Basilica contains many great works of art and is worthy of a visit itself; however, the main attraction is the Holy House.
The actual Holy House is encased in marble in the center of the basilica. It is 31 feet long and 13 feet wide.
Standing in the place where Mary’s fiat actually occurred is an experience beyond description. There are regular processions of the Blessed Sacrament in the square outside the basilica where the sick and handicapped are brought. Here they receive the blessings and graces bestowed on them by this beautiful devotion to the Real Presence of our Lord.
The Holy House of Loreto, unlike many other shrines, is under the direct authority and protection of the Pope.
In October 2019 Pope Francis added the feast of Our Lady of Loreto, commemorated on December 10, to the universal Roman calendar.
He also proclaimed a Lauretan Jubilee: A Holy Year beginning on December 8, 2019 and ending on December 10, 2020.
Masses for groups can be arranged in advance but if you are an independent traveler and happen to be there, you may join the group for Mass. Masses are in the Basilica facing the Holy House.
Traveling to Loreto & the Sanctuary of the Holy House:
For independent travelers, who travel by train, it is about two hours from Bologna. You change trains in the ferry port of Ancona and from there it takes about 20 minutes. The station is about one mile from the shrine, so you can walk or take a taxi to get there. Get train & bus schedules, see fares & buy tickets here.
And, of course, Ancona is a place of arrival and departure for many ferries going to such destinations as Croatia, Albania, and even Greece. Some of these overnight ferries are great for independent travelers…..much cheaper than flying, and means you don’t have the extra expense of a hotel.
Click here for the official website for the Sanctuary of the Holy House in Loreto.
Enrollment to the Universal Congregation of the Holy House of Loreto
It is extended to all the devotees of Our Lady of Loreto, who wish to spread the venerated title and to share in the spiritual benefits granted to those enrolled.
1. A plenary indulgence on the day of enrollment and on December 10th.
2. Participation in the merits of the Mass wich is celebrated daily in the Holy House for the members living and decease.
3. Participating in the prayers said in the Holy House and in the Order of the Friars Minor Capuchin.