Loreto, Italy, Dec 10, 2018 / 10:25 am
What do Galileo, Mozart, Descartes, Cervantes, and St. Therese of Lisieux have in common? They all traveled hundreds of miles to step inside the Virgin Mary’s house, which is preserved inside a basilica in the small Italian town of Loreto.
Catholic pilgrims have flocked to the Holy House of Loreto since the 14th century to stand inside the walls where tradition holds the Virgin Mary was born, raised, and greeted by the Angel Gabriel.
In other words, if it is actually the house of Nazareth, it is where the “Word became Flesh” at the Annunciation, a point on which the history of the humanity turned.
There is an often repeated story that angels carried the Holy House from Palestine to Italy. While modern listeners may doubt the legend’s veracity, historic documents have vindicated the beliefs of pious pilgrims over the centuries - with an ironic twist.
Tradition holds that the Holy House arrived in Loreto on Dec. 10, 1294 after a miraculous rescue from the Holy Land as the Crusaders were driven out of Palestine at the end of the 13th century.
In 1900, the pope’s physician, Joseph Lapponi, discovered documents in the Vatican archive, stating that in the 13th century a noble Byzantine family, the Angeli family, rescued “materials” from “Our Lady’s House” from Muslim invaders and then had them transported to Italy for the building of a shrine.
The name Angeli means “angels” in both Greek and Latin.
Further historic diplomatic correspondences, not published until 1985, discuss the “holy stones taken away from the House of Our Lady, Mother of God.” In the fall of 1294, “holy stones” were included in the dowry of Ithamar Angeli for her marriage to Philip II of Anjou, son of King Charles II of Naples.