"Are we prepared to promote conditions in which the living contact with God can be reestablished? For our lives today have become godless to the point of complete vacuity. God is no longer with us in the conscious sense of the word. He is denied, ignored, excluded from every claim to have a part in our daily life." - Alfred Delp, S.J.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The feast of Our Lady of Loreto

On December 10, 1294, the Holy House of Nazareth was moved by angels
 because of the Muslim invasion of Albania. 
It landed first in Recanti, Italy, but was shortly thereafter moved for a third time 
to its present location in Loreto.

The Translation of the Holy House.

How this Shrine came to be is a fascinating story. This is the House of Nazareth, the 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 a wealth of sound tradition and reliably recorded historical facts. We know from the visits of reliable 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. 
The Holy Land had seen its last and unsuccessful Crusade in 1291. The last of the Christian soldiers withdrew from Nazareth the same year, 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 far fetched 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 the 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 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 desecration of Islam. - Finish reading here.

I suspect few Catholics know the story, and fewer would believe it any longer - but I do.  The Holy House is my favorite shrine of Our Lady.  


  1. I believe it too. I will read up more on it with the information you provided Terry.
    One thing that came to mind though and one I am trying to understand, when the ancient Christians abandoned these holy places, did they take what is most important with them? The Gospels, holy Eucharist, vestments?
    The thought that the churches were left undefeated makes me sad but then I start to wonder if that were to happen here at home in the US, well, I am sure hard decisions would have to be made.

    Too much to ponder ...

    1. Not undefeated ... but I meant unattended. A good typo though in the sense that despite such treachery by the enemy, the faith has survived undefeated. ^^

  2. Terry, when we were building a kitchen/great room addition to our formerly little house, I decided that this needed to be done in prayer and with protection for all involved with the project. One hears so much of the horrors of these kinds of projects that end up with builder and homeowners at odds, over budget, terrible things gone awry, etc. After checking a patron saint list or two, I decided upon Our Lady of Loreto for our patroness. I was just plain charmed with the story, but also loved the idea of the Holy Family living together in this space. So I ordered a beautiful icon of Mary holding the child Jesus, who is holding a little house in his left hand and and blessing it with right. There are little clouds underneath the Holy House. Our Lady is dressed in a beautiful dark salmon/red brick/burnt red color. I first encased the icon in a plastic sleeve and hung it on the old back wall of the house while the foundation of the kitchen was being dug. Then when the project was completed, I found a beautiful silver frame and hung it on the wall that is at the junction of the new and old house. So as people enter the kitchen, they pass by our Lady and the Child Jesus.

    I decided to use the color of our Lady's dress as the paint color for some of the walls. I had the addition blessed when we were finished. It has been the room of the house where my own little family spends 90% of our time. The building went according to plan, for the most part, and I LOVED watching this beautiful space emerge, full of light and space and views of the big trees in our backyard which had never been accessible before.

    Our builder knew we were praying through this project. We had just enough money to cover the expenses, even with a few surprises.

    I LOVE the story of the Holy House of Loreto! I love the child-like wonder one needs to enter into the story of it. And I believe that there is a mantle of protection to be found in our kitchen. As it happens, the completed addition (kitchen, dining, and family room) is very, very close to the dimensions of the Holy House. Maybe one foot off! So, thank you for bringing this feast to our attention. (I nearly forgot- also the anniversary of Thomas Merton's death.)

    Also, just wanted to tell you again there is just no one like you on the net, Terry. Or anywhere else! You always give me something to ponder. And I like that you are steeped in the liturgical year. Thinking also about your Coptic Christians that had been across the street from you. Hope they are all okay. God bless your Advent with consolations and graces. Stay the course!

    1. Ah thanks Mary Beth - so nice to hear that. I love your devotion - may Our Lady and the Child Jesus pour out love to you and your family and your holy house!


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