Just three weeks after a trip to Lourdes, France, Pope John Paul II will make a visit to Loreto, south of Ancona by the Adriatic Sea, Sept. 5. The visit comes three days before the Church’s feast day of the birth of Mary, Sept. 8.
Within the Basilica of Loreto, stands a tiny cottage, venerated as the house in Nazareth in which Mother Mary was born, where an angel visited Mary and she conceived of the Holy Spirit, and where the Holy Family lived.
An inscription outside the church states that the cottage was transferred miraculously from Palestine to Italy by angels. Almost 50 popes have honored the shrine, and an immense number of Vatican documents refer to it as the Holy House of Nazareth.
Many saints have venerated the shrine in their lifetimes, including: St. Charles Borromeo, St. Francis de Sales, St. Ignatius Loyola and St. Alphonsus Liguori.
The house was formally investigated in 1751 under Pope Benedict XIV. It was found that the Holy House does not rest, and has never rested, upon foundations sunk into the earth where it now stands, supporting the belief that it was transferred from another site. As well, the construction materials are allegedly chemically identical with materials commonly found in Nazareth.
The Holy House of Loreto has been one of the most famous shrines in Italy since the 15th century, and has been the scene of numerous miraculous cures.