Cardinal Robert Sarah recently broke the news that the feast of Our Lady of Loreto would officially enter the liturgical calendar. While many Catholics have heard of Our Lady of Loreto, a surprising amount don’t actually know much about her, or the site at all.
Sure, they’ve heard the name and, well, isn’t there a house involved or something? Yes, a house is involved and, yes, the name is the thing people remember most. But, how much do you know about it? Are you struggling to come up with the full story? Don’t worry! We here at EpicPew are ready to give you a brief introduction to this amazing story.
Home sweet home
Did you know that Our Lady of Loretto isn’t a typical Marian apparition? Instead of having our Blessed Mother appear, it has been her childhood home that has appeared out of nowhere! Traditional holds that the Holy House of Mary (as it is known) is where the Blessed Virgin Mary was born, raised, and where she gave her fiat when the Angel Gabriel appeared to her. It has been a popular Marian pilgrimage location for centuries! Both saints and famous figures throughout history have visited the site, including St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Francis of Assisi, King St. Louis IX of France, Mozart, Cervantes, Galileo, Descartes, and others.
No huffing or puffing…
Basilicas have been built over the House for centuries. St. Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, had the first one built over it in 313. The Saracens destroyed the basilica in 1090 but the House remained unharmed. In 1263, Muslims destroyed the next basilica that had been built over it but, still, the house remained intact. After that, the house began disappearing and reappearing in different countries and towns until it landed in Loreto.
You’d think that it being the house of our Blessed Mother, it would be in the Middle East but it’s actually not! Tradition states angels transported the house to Tersato, Dalmatia in 1291 and then to Recanati, Italy in 1294 before it settled in the small town of Loreto in Italy. Imagine hearing that the house (an entire house!) had disappeared and reappeared somewhere else, a long distance away before such a feat could be done in a short amount of time! This is why Our Lady of Loreto is invoked by those traveling by plane or working in the aviation field.
Sticks and stones
If you’re skeptical about it being the same house, try this on for size: it’s been documented to be of the same size and in the same style at every location. Furthermore, in 1871, Cardinal Bartolini gave Professor Ratti of the University of Rome stones and mortar from the house to conduct an investigation, not telling him that the material was from the house in Loreto. What were the conclusions? That the material used to build the house was identical to that used in Nazareth. Furthermore, the style of the house was similar to the Eastern style than the Italian or European styles.
A Marian week
If you think we’ll have to wait long before celebrating the new feast day, you’re in for a surprise. It’s actually coming up next month! December 10th is now officially recognized as the feast of Our Lady of Loreto. It will be considered an optional memorial and it’ll be sandwiched between the feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8) and Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12). Who is up for a week-long Marian celebration?
The Litany of Loreto
Did you know that there’s a beautiful litany associated with Loreto? It was composed sometime in the Middle Ages and received papal approval in 1587 by Pope Sixtus V. It’s often prayed alongside the Rosary but people usually know it as the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary instead of the Litany of Loreto. Want to incorporate it into your prayer life? You can find it here in case you aren’t already familiar with it.
Now that you’ve got these facts stored away in your noggin, start making plans on how to celebrate the newest Marian feast day to officially enter the liturgical calendar.
Our Lady of Loreto, Pray for Us!