Our Lady of Loreto
Sep 07, 2016 / Written by: Luis Dufaur
And the Flying House of Nazareth
One of the greatest relics of the Catholic Church is the Holy House of Loreto in Italy. The house of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph was miraculously transported by the angels from Palestine to Europe, over a period of four years, making several “stops” along the way.
The house of the Holy Family in Nazareth has always been the object of Christian veneration. Shortly after 313 AD, St. Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine, built a basilica over this holy abode. The Saracens invaded the Holy Land in 1090, plundering and destroying Christian shrines, including Constantine’s basilica. Under the rubble, the Holy House was found intact.
During the twelfth century, another basilica was built to protect the holy dwelling. In 1219 or 1220 St. Francis of Assisi visited the Holy House in Nazareth. So did King St. Louis IX of France, when he was leading a crusade to liberate the Holy Land.
In 1263, when the Muslims overpowered the crusaders, the basilica was again destroyed but, once more, the Holy House was found intact.
When the crusaders where completely driven out of the Holy Land in 1291, the Holy House simply disappeared. Where did it go?
On May 10, 1291 a parish priest, Fr. Alexander Georgevich in the town of Tersatto, Dalmatia, (present-day Croatia) noticed the sudden appearance of a small building resting on a plot of land. Puzzled, he prayed about it, and in a dream saw the Blessed Virgin Mary, who explained that the structure was the house of the Holy Family, brought there by the power of God.
Nicolò Frangipane, feudal lord of Tersatto personally sent a delegation to Nazareth to ascertain whether the Holy House had indeed disappeared from its original place. The emissaries not only verified its disappearance but found the foundation on which the house was built and from which the walls had been taken away as a block.
In 1294, with the Moslem invasion of Albania, the house disappeared from Tersatto on the night of December 9. According to the testimony of shepherds, it was seen on December 10 of that year borne aloft by angels over the Adriatic Sea. For nine months it stayed on a hillside overlooking the port of Ancona, which thus came to be called “Posatora,” from the Latin “posat et ora” (to set down, or land, and pray). 1
After nine months in Posatora, the Holy House moved to a forest that belonged to a woman called Loreta, near the town of Recanati. That is where the name Loreto comes from.
Between 1295 and 1296, after spending eight months in this location, the Holy House was miraculously transported to a farm on Mount Prodo belonging to two brothers of the Antici family.
Four months later, the Holy House departed and landed on a public road on Mount Prodo connecting Recanati to Ancona, where it remains to this day.
As the news spread fast, thousands flocked there, and many miracles took place at the site.
The Church Executes Due Diligence
As miracles continued to occur in connection with pilgrimages to the house, deputations were sent to Nazareth to determine its origins in 1292, in 1296, and in 1524. All three declared that the measurements of the house corresponded to the visible foundations of the house of Nazareth.
In 1871 at the suggestion of Cardinal Bartolini, Professor Ratti of the University of Rome was given mortar and stones from the house at Loreto, and similar materials from houses in Nazareth. Ignorant of which was which, Prof. Ratti ascertained that the composition of the material from the house of Loreto, while not original to Italy, was identical to that of the material from Nazareth.
Other striking facts about the house in Loreto are that it has no foundations. The walls rest on a plot that was part field and part road, a sure indication that it was not built there but placed there. The style of the house of Loreto is not Italian but Eastern. And the original door was on the long side of the house, indicating that it was a dwelling and not a church.
Twenty-first Century Science Confirms Thirteenth Century Event
In April of 2015, at a conference organized by the “Amici del Timone” Cultural Center in Staggia Senese, Italy, titled “The Story of the Incredible Move of the House of Mary of Nazareth to Loreto,” a topic was developed which challenges engineering.
Prof. Giorgio Nicolini, who devoted his life of study and research to the case, spoke at this conference. Based on these scientific evidences, he proved indisputably the veracity of the miraculous transfer.
During his lecture, Professor Nicolini demonstrated the existence of many documents and eyewitness accounts of the transfer, which science and human method cannot explain. He also established a chronology of the change of location. (see above)
Countless other elements attest to the historical truth of this inexplicable translation of the Holy House. Three churches were built in Ancona—two still existing—testaments that eyewitnesses saw the “flying” Santa Casa arrive in Ancona and stop in Posatora. Moreover, in Forio, on Ischia Island, fishermen who traded with Ancona returned narrating the events that had taken place in 1295. Their reports led the city inhabitants to erect a basilica dedicated to “Santa Maria di Loreto.” They also saw the Holy House in Ancona with their own eyes.
Various bishops of the region approved the veneration of the miraculous translations. For centuries the popes renewed the approvals until Urban VIII, in 1624, definitively established December 10 as the Feast of the Translation of the Holy House of Mary, Mother of God.
Several Popes, including Paul II, Julius II, Leo X, Pius IX, Leo XIII and Pius XI documented their recognition of the translation. These respective documents, beyond their religious aspect in which the Popes recognize the event as supernatural, are recognized as valuable documents by historical science.
The Impossibility of a Materialistic Explanation
Professor Nicolini strongly reprimanded the materialistic mentality, at times agnostic, atheistic or Protestant, which seeks to discredit the authenticity of the Holy House venerated in Loreto. In a way, this opposition encouraged deeper studies, which ended up proving the Holy House actually came from the Holy Land. Proofs include the chemical composition of the material used to build the house, its shape, and many architectural details.
Some, denying the angelic translation, went so far as to fabricate a story that a fanciful princely family from Epirus named “Angeli” had dismantled the house and transported it brick by brick at the request of the Crusaders facing the destructive advance of Muslims. That “family” then rebuilt the house in Loreto.
Such an operation, with the transportation conditions of the thirteenth century, would have been a more miraculous feat than the angelic translation.
The stones and bricks are kept together with a mortar whose physical and chemical composition is found only in Palestine and precisely in the region of Nazareth. They are nonexistent in the Marche region or anywhere else in Italy.
Moreover, if the house was dismantled and rebuilt in place after place along its journey—as claimed by its fanciful objectors—one cannot understand how it could possibly have maintained the exact geometric proportions of the Nazareth house, whose foundations, to this day, match perfectly the walls of Loreto.
Nor would it have been possible that nobody saw or heard the house being dismantled and later rebuilt, especially in the brief span of one night in the center of the shrine in Nazareth and then again in Croatia and Italy.
Even more inexplicable is the fact that the Holy House finally came to rest across an old dirt highway. On this road, the passage of animals and carriages naturally opened ruts in the center of the roadway, raising the roadsides, and forming ditches on both sides.
Thus, the way the house landed, its three walls, with no foundation, are supported partly on ground and partly over open air. Today pilgrims can see this for themselves through a glass floor. Glass on the floor of the Holy House allows pilgrims to observe the walls without foundations, still supported on the ground and partly in the air.
The Recanati City Hall, moreover, had already at that time forbidden the building of houses on public roads and had ordered demolished all buildings found to be in violation of the ordinance. How, then, could someone have rebuilt a house cutting across the road without anyone noticing?
Another great hurdle comes from the lack of means in those days to carry an entire house, even if dismantled brick by brick and stone by stone. It would weigh a few tons. Transport by road would have likely been unfeasible due the delay and the amount of chariots, animals and men it would require. Transportation by sea, while more feasible, would also have been too time-consuming and prone to loss due to storms.
More complicated still would be to cut the walls in segments and take them intact on a 2,000 mile journey and then glue them back together without leaving traces of the joints.
These material factors, Prof. Giorgio Nicolini explained, postulate the impossibility of such transportation with the technical means of the time. From Professor Nicolini’s long and detailed demonstration it is clearly much more reasonable to believe the angelic translation resulting from a wondrous work of God, for Whom nothing is impossible, and Who has worked far greater miracles.
For human hands to have performed such a translation is to consider an event even more miraculous than that done by the work of angels.
Images of the Basilica of the Holy House of Loreto
- 1 A church was built on the site as a memorial, as was recorded at the time and signed by a priest “Don Matteo,” probably an eyewitness. Two tombstones also commemorate this occurrence. One is from the same time period of the event and is written in old Vulgar Latin. The other, from the sixteenth century, is written in vernacular and is a copy of the older. Posatora’s oldest tombstone already mentioned “Our Lady of Loreto,” making it clear that the inscription was done after the House’s departure from the site.