The Basilica della Santa Casa (the Basilica of the Holy House) is a beautiful Marian shrine and pilgrimage destination found in Loreto, Italy. The house sits about three miles away from the sea. The house in which the Virgin Mary is believed to have lived with the Holy Family is enshrined inside the basilica.
But the house wasn’t originally built in Italy – after all, the Holy Family lived in Nazareth! So how do the house get to Italy, and how can we be sure it is really the house Mary lived in while she was on earth?
If you want to learn more about the House of Loreto, check out Godfrey E. Phillip’s new book, The House of the Virgin Mary: The Miraculous Story of Its Journey from Nazareth to a Hillside in Italy. In the book, Phillip examines the science and history behind the house and why we should believe in it’s miraculous travels.
Check out these five amazing facts about the House of Loreto!
1. Countless saints have visited the house on pilgrimage
In 1220, Saint Francis of Assisi visited the house while it was in Nazareth. His early biographers write that he “came to Nazareth to venerate that sacred house.” Saint Louis, King of France, also visited the house on the feast of the Annunciation in 1251. He received communion at the altar in the crypt and prayed the Offices at the location.
Other saints to visit the house include Saint Francis Xavier, Saint Charles Borromeo, Saint Francis Borgia, Saint Aloysius Gonzga, Saint James of La Marca, Saint Stanislaus Kostka, Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, Saint Francis Caracciolo, and Saint Therese of Lisieux.
2. The house was miraculously moved first to Croatia . . . then to Italy
On May 10, 1291, the Holy House of Nazareth was removed from its foundation and transported by Angels across the Mediterranean sea to a small town of Tersatto. The priest at the local church, Alexander Geogevich, was surprised at the appearance of a small church-like structure. In a dream, Mary appeared to him and told him the origins of the house. To confirm her story, the Blessed Mother interceded for him to Our Lord and Alexander was cured of an illness he had suffered from for years.
3 years later, in 1294, the house was moved by angels once again to a forest area near Recanti, Italy. It there became a place of pilgrimage, and was moved
3. Our Lady of Loreto is the Patroness of air travel
On March 24, 1920, Pope Benedict XV named the Our Lady of Loreto the Patroness of all air travelers. Check out this prayer that intercedes to her!
O Holy Mother of God, our Lady of Loreto, Patroness of aviation and air travelers. We come to thank you for all the graces and benefits bestowed on us. Full of trust in your powerful intercession, we fly to you, begging for your maternal solicitude and care. Listen to our supplications for the success of this flight and all the flights we may undertake. Do bless the pilots, the flight attendants, the technicians, and all of us, passengers, placed under their care. As we piously believe that your house in Nazareth was borne by angels to Loreto, so may you also bring us all safely to our destination here on earth and to our final home in heaven. Amen.
4. The House is now enclosed in marble
In his book, Phillips writes that the house was made of a “dark red polished stone wholly unlike anything in Palestine, where all the buildings there were of grey limestone of the country.” To protect the house though, the shrine was surrounded by a marble screen designed by Bramante and commissioned by Popes Leo X, Clement VII, and Paul III.
The four sides of the marble enclosure represent the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Arrival of the House at Loreto and the Nativity of the Blessed Mother.
5. Over 45 popes have sanctioned the story of the house’s miraculous transport
The Popes include Popes Benedict XII, Blessed Urban V, Urban VI, Pope Paul II, Julius II, Leo X, St. Pius V, Gregory XIII, Sixtus V, Clement VIII, Clement X, Innocent XII, Pius IX, Leo XIII, Pius X, Benedict XV, and many others.
Rev. G.E. Phillips’ book, The House of the Virgin Mary, tells the entire story of the Holy House of Nazareth and its miraculous travels. The book lays out evidence for the miraculous moving of the house and offers answers to questions surrounding the miracle. The book is published by Sophia Institute Press and you can find more about it here.