Story of our Lady of Loreto



The Holy Family’s house in Nazareth has a complicated and obscure history. What is known is that the knights of the First Crusade took control of Galilee in 1099 and made Nazareth their capital. The Italian Angeli family began to reconstruct the Holy Family’s house when a Muslim army won a key battle in 1187 near Nazareth, forcing all the Europeans to flee. The Angelis disassembled stones of the Holy Family’s house and shipped them to Italy by way of modern-day Croatia. The stones were ultimately reconstructed in 1294–95 in their present location in Loreto, where the labors of the Angelis in bringing the stones by ship turned into the legend that “angels” had scooped up the home in Nazareth and transported it through the air to Loreto. In the succeeding centuries, the small stone house was enclosed within an elaborate marble structure within an ornate papal basilica, which became one of the most visited Marian shrines in the world.

Our Lady of Loreto is the title of the statue of the blackened Virgin found in the Holy House. By the 1600s, a beautiful “Litany of Loreto”enumerating Mary’s biblically rich and theologically evocative titles became a popular Catholic devotion. In October 2019, Pope Francis went on pilgrimage to Loreto and announced that December 10 would henceforward be the Optional Memorial of Our Lady of Loreto on the Church’s universal calendar. The formal decree instituting the change states that the new feast “will help all people, especially families, youth and religious to imitate the virtues of the perfect disciple of the Gospel, the Virgin Mother, who, in conceiving the head of the church also accepted us as her own.”

Our Lady of Loreto, we ask your intercession to intercede on behalf of all who have recourse to you. Grant us the grace to respond generously to all of God’s invitations to holiness, though they may disrupt our domestic duties and life’s plan.

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