December 10 is the memorial to Our Lady of Loreto, a day that honors the the miraculous story of Mary’s house in Nazareth, the place where Jesus, Mary and Joseph lived. Here is the story.
In the year 1291 a strange thing happened in the little town of Nazareth. On the morning of May 10th, people of the village walked by and were astonished to see that a small house had disappeared. Now this was not your run-of-the-mill dwelling. Pilgrims considered it a holy house for it was the Virgin Mary’s house. Whoosh! Overnight the house was gone. All that remained was its foundation.
Who moved it? What happened? Good questions, dear reader. My sentiments exactly. The miraculous “translation” (movement) of Mary’s house was one of those nuggets I discovered in my research on Miraculous! Catholic Mysteries for Kids. At first, I was skeptical, but kept reading. The more I researched…the more I came to believe that it was not a fairy tale.
Here is the basic story. In the 1200’s, Saracen forces were attacking Christian churches and holy sites. It appeared their warriors were closing in on this sacred site. How sacred? Here was the house of the Immaculate Conception, of the Annunciation, of the hidden life of the Holy Family. Wow! Try to top that! One night, unseen forces moved the little house from Nazareth to Croatia. It stayed there for three years. Next, it was carried over the Adriatic Sea to Italy. After two more moves, it was mysteriously relocated to its current location in Loreto, Italy.
You might ask a reasonable question. Why would a sensible person believe such a fantastic story? Let’s take a closer look. Scientific studies of construction materials show that the foundation (located in Nazareth) and the house match perfectly. Stone from the Holy House in Loreto is made of limestone, not red volcanic rock found in Italy. Dimensions of the foundation and dwelling are a perfect fit.
It is believed that angels moved Mary’s house. Now that’s hard to swallow. What crazy person would buy that line? I delved more deeply into the story. Popes over the centuries have encouraged veneration of the Holy House. Many saints have visited the pilgrimage sit in Italy. Among those saints are Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Francis Xavier, Saint Charles Borromeo, and St. Theresa of Lisieux. In 1848, St. John Henry Cardinal Newman made pilgrimage to Loreto and left with no doubt of the miraculous nature of the house. “If you ask me why I believe, it is because everyone in Rome believes.
By the year 1917, forty-four popes had visited and expressed belief in the miraculous origins. Among those popes were Leo XIII, Pius X, and Pius XII. In 1950, Pope Pius XII elevated the House of Loreto to the status of holy place. In 1993, Pope Saint John Paul II called it “the foremost shrine of international import dedicated to the Blessed Virgin.”
If any readers have been to this holy site, I would love to hear your story. Please post a comment on my website.