Pope Francis has decreed that the celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto be added to the General Roman Calendar as an optional memorial for December 10, the date on which this feast is observed in Loreto, Italy. The intent of expanding this observance is to “help all people, especially families, youth and religious to imitate the virtues of that perfect disciple of the Gospel, the Virgin Mother, who, in conceiving the Head of the Church also accepted us as her own.”
Find a short video about Our Lady of Loreto Basilica here.
The following is an English translation of information found on the official Holy House of Loreto website:
According to tradition, the Holy House of Loreto is part of the house of the Virgin, which was built from a cave carved into the rock and from a front room. According to tradition, the latter was transported from Nazareth in 1291 by “angelic mystery.” It was taken first to ancient Illyria and then to the Loretan hill on December 10, 1294.
When the crusaders were expelled from Palestine in 1291, the masonry house was transported to ancient Illyria, in the present city of Tersatto, where there is a Marian sanctuary today.
During the night between December 9 and 10 in 1294, the house was transported to Italy to the lands of the ancient municipality of Recanati and was placed on a public road where it is still kept. The devotional tradition says that this transposition was the work of the angels, but recent archaeological and philological research proposes the well-founded hypothesis that the Holy House had been transported by ship under protection from above. Some indications suggest that the people who arranged for the transport were not the angels of Heaven but a family called Angeli (Angels).
It was May 17, 1900, when Giuseppe Lapponi, pontifical physician of Pope Leo XIII, indicated that he had read some documents in the Vatican archives that claimed a noble Byzantine family named Angeli had saved the materials of the House of the Madonna from Muslim devastation and had them transported to Loreto.
The Holy House is kept inside a marble cladding that was designed by Bramante in 1509. It was built under the direction of Antonio Sansovino, Ranieri Nerucci, and Antonio da Sangallo the Younger.
Since the 16th century, pilgrims have constantly moved around the Holy House on their knees. This has dug two deep furrows in the floor that can still be seen today.
Image credit: VaticanMedia-Foto/CPP/CIRIC