Our Lady of Loreto story and the Holy House of Loreto – Basilica della Santa Casa

Sanctuary of the Holy House of Loreto, Piazza della Madonna, Loreto, Ancona, Italija

Website of the Sanctuary

+39 071 9747155

Every day: 6.15 am to 7.30 pm

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The Holy House of Our Lady of Loreto is “a rest for the soul”, place to meet God and sometimes the inspiring reason and source of strength for new enterprises.

The Basilica della Santa Casa (English: Basilica of the Holy House) is a Catholic place of pilgrimage in Loreto, Italy, containing the house in which the Virgin Mary lived.

Our Lady of Loreto story

An ancient tradition tells that the walls of the Shrine existed in Nazareth, Galilea: the Holy House is the same House where Our Lady Mary was born, grew up and received the angelic announcement.

Holy House of Our Lady of Loreto - Basilica della Santa Casa

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This tradition, based on devotion and popular belief, ascribed the transportation of the House of Nazareth to an angelic mission; current historical studies have developed the hypothesis of a transportation carried out by Man, through sea and land, that came true with special assistance from above. That’s the way “to read between the lines” and give the most probable explanation to the Holy House event.

The three walls of the Holy House of Our Lady of Loreto

The original nucleus of the Holy House of Our Lady of Loreto 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 of Our Lady of Loreto.

The Holy Chamber can be clearly defined in two different parts. The lower section (from the ground up to almost 3 meters in heigh) is the original wall, made with sandstone blocks, built in regular rows, as we could find in Nazareth; the upper section is added afterwards with Marche local brick, the only building material used in the area with that methods of construction.

Holy House of Our Lady of Loreto - Basilica della Santa Casa

A graffito on the wall of the Holy House of Our Lady of Loreto

The technique used for the external finish of some stones is similar to that employed by the Nabateans and was very popular in Palestine during the Romans empire.

About sixty graffiti have been found, and mostly are considered by experts to be similar to those of the Judeo-Christians in the Holy Land, including Nazareth, belonging to ancient times.

The Marble Screen

The Marble Screen was commissioned by Julius II, who sent Donato Bramante to Loreto in 1507 to do “great things” there and to “draw many works”.

The opera was realized under the direction of Andrea Sansovino (1513-27), Ranieri Nerucci and Antonio da Sangallo il Giovane. The statues of the Sybils and of the Prophets were inserted in their niches in a later period.

The Marble Screen consists of a podium with geometrical ornamentations, with a series of aligned columns articulated in two sections, crowned by corinthian capitals supporting a projecting cornice. The balaustrade, by Antonio da Sangallo, cloaks the ungainly barrel vault of the Holy House and also provides an elegant frame encasing the marvellous edifice.

Holy House of Our Lady of Loreto - Basilica della Santa Casa

Basilica tour of Our Lady of Loreto

This tour shows both internal and external parts of the Basilica. Headphones requested. Guided tours are allowed from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (weekly days) and from 12,30 p.m. to 16 p.m. (holidays).

Museum-Art gallery

IIt host some wooden model of the Basilica, which are very helpful to understand the architectural phases of its building. It’s possible to visit all 22 room of the Museum; the exhibition includes some detached frescos, too.

Outstanding among the various objects are some estimable canvases by Lorenzo Lotto, a fine collection of Renaissance ceramics and 10 Raphaelesque tapestries. The collection of ancient apothecary pottery of the Holy House, considered one of the finest of the genre, is made up of a core group of 350 specimens, coming from Orazio Fontana workshop.

Patrol walkaway

It was built as a defence for the Shrine against the attacks of the turkish fleet that sailed on the adriatic sea. It’s a symbol of the strong military attention carried on by different Popes (Sisto IV, Giulio II della Rovere and Leone X de’ Medici) to protect the Holy House.

The built of this huge “Basilica-Fortress” attracted several among the greatest architects such as Baccio Pontelli, Donato Bramante, Antonio da Sangallo and Cristoforo Resse.

Their work clearly shows the evolution of military defence based on the new fire weapons; medieval war was over, modern war started and this was assumed by different pattern of edification.

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BASILICA TOUR

This tour shows both internal and external parts of the Basilica. Headphones requested. Guided tours are allowed from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (weekly days) and from 12,30 p.m. to 16 p.m. (holidays).

MUSEUM-ART GALLERY

IIt host some wooden model of the Basilica, which are very helpful to understand the architectural phases of its building. It’s possible to visit all 22 room of the Museum; the exhibition includes some detached frescos, too. Outstanding among the various objects are some estimable canvases by Lorenzo Lotto, a fine collection of Renaissance ceramics and 10 Raphaelesque tapestries. The collection of ancient apothecary pottery of the Holy House, considered one of the finest of the genre, is made up of a core group of 350 specimens, coming from Orazio Fontana workshop.

PATROL WALKAWAY (CAMMINAMENTI DI RONDA)

It was built as a defence for the Shrine against the attacks of the turkish fleet that sailed on the adriatic sea. It’s a symbol of the strong military attention carried on by different Popes (Sisto IV, Giulio II della Rovere and Leone X de’ Medici) to protect the Holy House. The built of this huge “Basilica-Fortress” attracted several among the greatest architects such as Baccio Pontelli, Donato Bramante, Antonio da Sangallo and Cristoforo Resse. Their work clearly shows the evolution of military defence based on the new fire weapons; medieval war was over, modern war started and this was assumed by different pattern of edification.

Contacts:

Museo-Antico Tesoro della Santa Casa:
Tel: +39 071 9747198
E-mail: 
[email protected]
Artifex – comunicare con l’arte:
Tel: +39 06 68193064
E-mail: [email protected]

Outside the Basilica – The Square

The square, bordered at the east side by the facade of the Basilica with its Bell-tower, at the north and west by the Apostolic Palace and at the south by the Illiric Palace, is also embellished by a central fountain.

The Basilica

Started in 1469 in late Gothic style, probably based on a design of Marino di Marco Cedrino, the Basilica was completed in 1587 with its facade in late renaissance style. In 1468 the Bishop of Recanati Niccolò delle Aste decided on the construction of the current temple, started the following year. After the bishop’s death in 1469, the construction works taken on by Pope Paul II who had been miraculously cured in 1464 in the Holy House, while he was a cardinal.

The Dome

The octagonal tambour of the cupola to the cornice was built by Giuliano da Maiano and vaulted by Giuliano da Sangallo in just eight months, between September 1499 and May 1500.

The Facade

The facade was designed by Giovanni Boccalini, who started the work of construction, from the lower cornice; it continued under the direction of G.B. Ghioldi and was brought to conclusion in 1587 by Lattanzio Ventura under the auspices of Pope Sixtus V, whose name was engraved on the upper cornice.

The Bronze Doors

Cardinal Antonio Maria Gallo, Protector of the Shrine between 1587 and 1620, ordered to build the three bronze doors that embellish the facade of the Basilica for the jubilee of the year 1600. The Bishop’s aim was to underline the biblical subjects depicted on the doors, as it should shepard the pilgrims spiritually to contemplate the mystery of the Incarnation, of which the Holy House is a reminder. The three portals were produced in the foundry of Recanati and recently restored by the Morigi firm.(1988-1992).

The central door is the work of Antonio di Girolamo Lombardo, assisted by his brothers Pietro, Paolo e Giacomo; he started in 1590 and finished in 1610.

The Monumento to Sixtus V

On the left side of the churchyard in front of the church there is the statue of Sixtus V, done by Antonio Calcagni with the collaboration of Tiburzio Vergelli in 1587. It was paid by the Marca Province and by eight prelates from Piceno who had been consecrated cardinals by Sixtus V.

The Apostolic Palace

The two-floor Palace opens onto the square in front of the Basilica, with two wings, the longer wing on the north side and the shorter one on the west. Some scholars believe that its construction began in 1498, following the projects by Giuliano da Sangallo or by Francesco di Giorgio Marini; however, the Palace was rather conceived by Donato Bramante, who had been sent to Loreto by Pope Julius II with the charge to “design many works”.

The Illyrian Palace

This Palace stands on the south side of the square. A decorous brick edifice, it was reduced to its present form in 1831-1835 by the architect Giuseppe Marini. For many years the previous structure, started in 1580, had housed the Jesuits, the penitentiary priests of the Shrine, and young students from ancient Illyria. Nowadays the Palace, which has been restructured and modernized, is used as a hostel for pilgrims, especially infirm pilgrims of the so-called “white trains”.

The Fountain

In the middle of Piazza della Madonna stands an artistic fountain, designed by the celebrated Carlo Maderno and his uncle Giovanni Fontana and built between 1604 and 1614. The Fountain is adorned with some bronze sculptures, carved by Tarquinio and Pietro Paolo Jacometti in 1622.

Maderno and Fontana brought water to the fountain through a gallery nearly 5 km. in length from the Recanati area, to meet the needs of the pilgrims.

The Bell-tower

The design is by Luigi Vanvitelli, the famous architect of the celebrated Royal Palace of Caserta. Work started in 1750 and concluded in 1755 under the supervision of Pietro Bernasconi.

It houses nine bells, one of which is worthy of mention: called “Loreta” and made by Bernardo da Rimini in 1515, it is 184 cm. in diameter and weighs no less than 7300 kilos

September “Lauretano”

The 8th september, day of the nativity of the Madonna, is a great festivity for Loreto, and all the town “dress” its Sunday clothes for many days. The “Settembre Lauretano” offers a series of civil and religious events, such as horses’ races, festivals, commemorations and various shows. The top of these celebrations is the solemn procession with the statue of the Madonna, along the streets of the town.

Macerata – Loreto

This Pilgrimage, promoted by the catholic association “Comunione e Liberazione”, is a manifestation of popular faith of thousands young people. During the night walk, along about 26 Km among Marche hills, the pilgrims alternates Rosaries, songs and significant witnesses. The top event in the history of the pilgrimage was the participation of Pope John Paul II, at the starting point of the XVI event, on June 1993.

The Passion of Christ

Every year on Holy Friday, at Villa Musone ( a little village down the hill of Loreto) more than 200 people in historical costumes recall the Passion of Christ. This miracle-play called “La morte del Giusto” (the Death of the Righteous) takes place along the streets of the town up to the fortified walls of the Sanctuary.

Web site: www.lamortedelgiusto.it

“The Arrival” Event or “Festa della Venuta”

On the nigth of December, 9th, the “Festa della Venuta” remembers the transport to Loreto of the house of the Madonna: in the countryside around Loreto people light many fires as to draw the way throughout the fields and all the bells ring. Many people come from the nearby countries to assist the solemn procession with the statue of the Madonna. On December, 10th the religious feast culminate with the Solemn Pontifical Mass in the Basilica.

International Sacred Music Festival – Virgo Lauretana

The International Sacred Music Festival “Virgo Lauretana” is the great engagement that, every year, extends the joy of Easter and anticipates the jubilation of the month of May: the month of Our Lady! Loreto becomes the home of beautiful singing and the school which re-educates to enjoy the melodies, which over the centuries, picked up the echo of the infinite beauties and harmonies, which are God. Recently, on the initiative of the bishop Mons. Gianni Danzi, the ancient “Musical Chapel of Loreto” began singing again under the direction of Master Fr. Giuliano Viabile.

Web site: www.rassegnalauretana.it

Agorà of the youth of the Mediterranean Sea

The Mediterranean Sea has plenty of story and adventures, exchange and culture, it’s the cradle of different peoples and surprising civilizations joined by the same passion: the willing of meeting together. The “Agorà dei giovani del Mediterraneo” has taken place for years in September at the “Giovanni Paolo II Centre”, in Montorso, that become for this occasion a big square for the young people coming from all countries overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

Web site: www.medagora.org

Mass October to March – Saturday and weekdays:

  • 7 – 7.30 a.m. (in the Holy House)
  • 8.30 a.m.
  • 10 a.m.
  • 11 a.m.
  • 4.30 p.m.
  • 6 p.m.

Mass October to March – Sunday and holidays:

  • 7 a.m.
  • 8.30 a.m.  
  • 10 a.m.
  • 11 a.m.
  • 12 a.m.
  • 4 p.m.
  • 5 p.m.
  • 6 p.m.

Mass april to september – Saturday and weekdays:

  • 7 a.m. – 7.30 a.m. (in the Holy House)
  • 8.30 a.m.
  • 10 a.m.
  • 11 a.m.
  • 5 p.m.
  • 6.30 p.m.

Mass april to september – Sunday and holidays:

  • 7 a.m.
  • 8.30 a.m.
  • 10 a.m.
  • 11 a.m.
  • 12 a.m.
  • 5 p.m.
  • 6 p.m.
  • 7 p.m.

By Airplane

Airport of Falconara Marittima, then you can take a taxi or rent a car and you can reach Loreto in thirty minutes. Otherwise you can reach the station of Ancona by taxi or by shuttle bus.

By Car

Highway “A14 Bologna-Taranto”, exit to “Loreto-Porto Recanati”, then you must drive for 3 Km toward the town. The Basilica stands on the top of a hill and can be seen from the highway.

By Train

Railway “Ancona-Pescara”, station of Loreto or Ancona (then you can reach Loreto by local bus). The station of Loreto is only 2 Km away from the town’s centre.

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