Updated: Nov 20, 2022
Mid semester break of four days presented an opportunity to escape from the seminary and see a bit of the county side. I was asked to join a group seminarians that had arranged to travel to Loreto for a couple of nights, so decided to join them.
A four and a half hour train trip across country on the Adriatic coast brought us to the town of Loreto. Before Medjugorje, Fatima and Lourdes there was Loreto. Loreto is famous for having in its possession a house that is said to be home of the Blessed Virgin from Nazareth. It is said to be where she was conceived Immaculate Conception, and grew up and also received the visit from the angle Gabriel what we now call the Annunciation, and possibly the Holy family house for a time.
It is not all that clear how the house came to be in Loreto Italy, but it is first recorded of being in Loreto on December 10 1294. The legend is that this house was transported to Loreto by angels via Croatia in 1291 where it is reported an apparition of The Blessed Virgin took place and many miracles were reported before it was transported to the hilltop in Loreto. The tradition says that there was a rich family called Angelo, (where the name angel can be linked) who paid the Crusaders for the house to be moved from the Holy Lands to Italy, after the fall of Christendom to the Muslims. Science tells us that the stones in the walls are from Israel and some of the stones have ‘graffiti’ on them in Greek and Hebrew of Christian and Marian inscription that matches inscriptions in a cave in Nazareth where a basilica is now built over in honuor of the Annunciation.
However it got there, it has been attracting pilgrims for many centuries, like it had when it was in the Holy Lands from the first centuries. Many have experienced miracles and inspirations in there lives, including numerous and famous Saints including St Therese of Lisieux, and St. Luis de Montfort. St John Paul II described the house as “the foremost shrine of international importance to the Blessed Virgin Mary” in 1993.
The current basilica dates back to the 1400’s. It is built over the top of the house.
Like most holy places in Italy they tend to be placed on top of big hills with plenty of steps.
Basilica of the Holy House entrance and the Piazza della Madonna.
Rear view of the basilica.
We took a guided tour of the Basilica balcony and needless to say the views were amazing!
With views stretching many kilometers out to see and up the coast Loreto became and important strategic position in many wars including the Second World War.
Apparently monks used to live up in the roof of the basilica in isolation. This a section over one of the domes.
The basilica is connected by a shot walkway that joins to the monastery house. The monks are Capuchin monks that look after the basilica. There is a chapel dedicated to Padre Pio in the basilica.
The place where we stayed, formerly a monastery it is situated right next to the basilica.
The nave with the Holy house behind the altar. It is now cased in a marble decorated walls. The window behind the altar looks into the house. Loreto has daily exposition, morning, afternoon evening masses and a daily mid day rosary said in multiple languages. I didn't take many photos inside the basilica as they were discouraged. Although there are plenty of pictures to be found on google. You can walk into and spend time in prayer inside the small house, and contemplate the significance of the events that took place inside it two millennia ago that would change the world forever. "And the word became flesh and dwelt among us" John 1:14.
View from the Loreto hilltop.
The train system in Italy is quite extensive making travel around the country excess-able and affordable. Some of these trains fly, do not stand to close to the edge of platform when the pass!
Loreto is a quite spot located far away from the tourist crowds of Rome, in a small village that lends its self to a journey more in keeping with a pilgrimage rather than a tourist destination and well worth the effort of getting here.
The other side of Italy the Adriatic Sea.