Since we are getting closer to the Holy Week, we’ve decided to head towards the town of Loreto to experience both the artistic and cultural heritage of this elegant and sophisticated city and, above all, its religious and spiritual side.
You start feeling the majesty of this place even before reaching it and as soon as you can see the hill on which stands the Sanctuary of the Holy House. The Shrine is the most famous church in the Marche region and is visited by about 4 million people every year.As we walk the city streets towards the beautiful ‘Piazza della Madonna’, we are stunned by the respectful silence that surrounds us, just like entering another dimension. At the center of the square is a fountain of the ‘600s. It gave the possibility to the pilgrims coming to Loreto to wash after long days of walking.
The inside of the Basilica of Loreto is a place rich in history and spirituality. The impact with this sacred place is incredible: even non –Catholics will certainly ‘breathe’ a sense of divine. Several valuable works are also gathered in this church.
The Basilica was built around the small Shrine of the Holy House (‘Santa Casa’, in Italian) of Nazareth, and the closer we get to it the more fascinated we are by the charm of this masterpiece.
This is the house where our Lady Mary, lived. According to an ancient tradition, the Holy House was transported from Nazareth to Loreto in 1294, when Palestine was conquered by Muslims and the Crusaders had to leave. The legend also describes the transportation of the House of Nazareth to an ‘angelic’ mission. Current historical studies have developed the hypothesis of a transportation carried out by men, on initiative of a noble family named…”Angels”!
The devotion you can feel here is truly deep: the stones of the house, have become smooth by thousands of hands touching them throughout the years and anyone can feel a unique energy when entering inside this place.
The original nucleus of the Holy House consists of three walls only: in Nazareth, the original fourth wall was simply the side opened towards the entrance of the grotto. On this edge now stands the interior altar of the Holy House.
The poor stones of the Holy House, are now sorrounded by a sumptuous Marble Screen: a sculptural masterpiece of Renaissance art. It took seventy years to complete this amazing project designed by Bramante! The Marble Screen shields the House “as a chest containing the pearl.”
We were really impressed to see the two deep groves in the marble platform outside the Holy House: in the course of centuries they have been worn so deep by the knees of the waiting pilgrims. We have no wonder. Here is a Sanctuar claiming the holiness and antiquity beyond any other in Europe which in its touching simplicity and charm can have no rivals.
The curious statue within the walls of the Holy House of the Black Madonna of Loreto is a modern copy of the original destroyed in a fire in 1921; some claim the tradition of the black madonnas to be found in many famous shrines is a was a consequence of the smoke of votive candles.
Beyond all religion or belief, the Shrine of the Holy House of Loreto is worth a visit to admire a masterpiece of history and a meditative place that will leave you speechless.
To get more info about the Sanctuary of the Holy House of Loreto, please visit: http://www.santuarioloreto.it