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  Holy House of Loreto
Did you know the little house in which Jesus, Mary, and Joseph lived in at Nazareth still exists? Early Christians pointed out a little house in Nazareth as Mary’s home, where she was living when the angel Gabriel appeared and announced that she was to be the Mother of God. They said that Mary’s house then became home for the Holy Family.
In the fourth century, Saint Helena, the mother of Rome’s  rst Christian emperor, Constantine, had a basilica built over Mary’s house to preserve it. For centuries, pilgrims came from near and far to pray at this holy shrine in Nazareth. Then, in 1263, Muslims seized the Holy Land and destroyed the basilica. Miraculously, the little house survived.
Nearly 30 years later, Mary’s house showed up in Italy, far from Nazareth. How did it get there? Perhaps some Italian Crusaders brought it home from the Holy Land. According to a legend, the house was  own across the sea by angels,  rst to one spot in Croatia and later to Italy where it is now—on a hilltop near the port of Ancona on the Adriatic Sea.
Laurel bushes grew there in abundance. The Italian word for these fragrant blooming evergreens is loreto and that is how Mary’s house came to be called the Holy House of Loreto. According to the legend, the
angels moved the house from the  rst spot because two greedy brothers who owned the land wanted to get rich by charging pilgrims to see it.
A more recent explanation for the little house’s move from Nazareth to Italy comes in a letter dated 1294. The sender writes that a family with the last name Angeli paid for the house to be brought from the Holy Land to Italy. Angeli is the Italian word for “angels.”
Whether angels from heaven or the Angeli family are responsible for bringing the Holy Family’s house to Italy is not as important as another recent discovery. The scientists who examined the stones and structure say that the Holy House of Loreto is indeed the same house that once stood on a street in Nazareth.
Thousands of pilgrims continue to visit the shrine of the Holy House of Loreto each year. It was a favorite shrine of Pope Saint John XXIII and also of Pope Saint John Paul II. During his ponti cate, Pope Saint Benedict XV (1914–1922) named Our Lady of Loreto the patron not only of families, but appropriately of aviators and air travelers as well.
Catholic Culture Holiday Season 2017
        A Service of
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