"Strange statue of a lady" discovered in a house near a laurel grove (loreto) after 1294; house said to be the Holy House of Mary transported from Nazareth by angels to Italy in 1294. Statue accidentaly destroyed by fire and replaced in 1921 by a new standing figure, 3 feet high, carved from the wood of a cedar grown in the Vatican. Analysis of literary sources, however, indicates that the transport of the Santa Casa happened by sea and not through the assistance of angels. During the medieval period of Christian history it was common for monks and crusaders to be called ‘angels’ by the common people, this explaining the legend of ‘angels’ flying the house from the Holy Land to Loreto.
I visited Loreto many years ago when I was a teenager student and never forgot its magical and simple atmosphere that's why I decided to spend a cold and sunny november sunday with my mum and my aunt Fanny.
Loreto (takes its name from the plant of laurel,) is a small town of 10,000 people in the region of Marche and it's well known for it's beautiful Basilica of Santa Casa (Saint House Basilica).
We arrived late in the morning just in time to assist the mass that was attended by important guests like Loreto mayor and Bishop. During the mass I could not refrain from admiring all the many paintings, marble and carvings that ornate this marvellous church, but the main attraction of Loreto is, however, the Holy House itself (in Italian, the Santa Casa di Loreto), a well-known Catholic place of pilgrimage since at least the 14th century. It is a plain stone building, it has a door on the north side and a window on the west; and a niche contains a small black image of the Virgin and Child, in Lebanon cedar, and richly adorned with jewels. St Luke is purported to have been the sculptor; its workmanship suggests the latter half of the 15th century. Around the Santa Casa is a tall marble screen designed by Bramante and executed under Popes Leo X, Clement VII and Paul III, by Andrea Sansovino, Girolamo Lombardo, Bandinelli, Guglielmo della Porta and others. The four sides represent the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Arrival of the Santa Casa at Loreto and the Nativity of the Virgin respectively. he Holy House of Loreto is alleged to be the house where Mary was born and raised, and where an angel told her she would be the mother of Jesus. The first historical mention of the ‘Santa Casa’ appears when Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, learned of its existence and had a church built around the house in order to protect it. According to a 14th century legend, after the Holy Land came under the control of Islam in 1263, the Holy House was flown by angels to Dalmatia, modern Croatia in 1291, where a vision revealed it to be Mary’s house. Three years later, in 1294, it was again transported by angels to Recanati(a few Km from Loreto) and finally, in 1295, to a laurel grove, the ‘Lauretanum,’ for which Loreto is named. The myth of the Holy House states that when the Holy House was lowered into place the nearby trees bowed down in respect.
Analysis of literary sources, however, indicates that the transport of the Santa Casa happened by sea and not through the assistance of angels. During the medieval period of Christian history it was common for monks and crusaders to be called ‘angels’ by the common people, this explaining the legend of ‘angels’ flying the house from the Holy Land to Loreto. Archaeological evidence and documents uncovered in 1962 suggest that the house may indeed derive from the region of Nazareth as its limestone and cedar construction materials are not available in the area of Loreto. The Holy House itself is quite small, and its single room with a small altar contains a Black Madonna statue and a blue ceiling with golden stars, and what I can say about this Italian treasure is that even if you dont believe in saints, in the Madonna or in miracles, we all could perceive a strong, powerful, sudden energy in front of this small shrine. It was undoubtful that I made a great present to my mum, to my aunt and to...myself!
As we arrived quite late in Loreto (my fault, I love to sleep a bit more on sundays mornings), we had to set off and drive to our small Osteria where a good, but not delicious as hoped, fish lunch was waiting for us in Porto Recanati. After this long lasting meal we had a lovely and relaxing walk on the gravel beach of this small town. Once more I realized how this small country called Italia can be different, amazing and interesting just moving a few kms from your hometown. I often travel around the world while there are too many half undiscovered gems hidden in my "courtyard".
I want to finish by greeting and wishing the best to my brother's brother in law, Maurizio Voce, who has just started his final and more important travel, I hope, I am sure to the Paradise.
Fai buon viaggio Maurizio!