Translation of the Holy House

December 10: Translation of the Holy House of Loreto

Next to the Holy Sepulcher and Saint Peter’s at Rome, there is not in all Christendom a more famous pilgrimage than that of La Santissima Casa de Loreto. The holy house of Nazareth was venerated by the Christians even in the lifetime of the apostles, and Saint Helen enclosed it in a temple which received the name of Saint Mary.

Under the rule of the Arabian caliphs, a crowd of French pilgrims came to adore God and honor his Mother in this simple and poor dwelling, where Jesus and Mary had for a long space of time led a laborious and hidden life. When the Seldjoucid Turks had subjected their old masters, the pilgrims of Europe, who ventured into Syria to visit Jerusalem and Nazareth, suffered barbarous treatment, the recital of which, inflamed the whole of the West, causing an eruption into Asia.

When Godfrey of Bouillon had been proclaimed King of Jerusalem, Tancred, whose lofty deeds have been sung by Tasso, was named governor of Galilee; this prince, who was very devout to Mary, proved his devotion by the sumptuous offerings with which he enriched the church of Nazareth.

After the disastrous expedition of King Saint Louis, that corner of the earth, which was regarded as the cradle of Christianity, was defended foot by foot by the brave Knights Templars, who shed tears of rage and blood at the sight of the holy places profaned by the Saracens.

The last Christian stronghold was at Acre. Eight days before Acre was destroyed, and tens of thousands of Christians were put to the sword, the Holy House of Loreto was lifted up into the air and taken away. This occurred on May 10 in the year 1291.

Galilee, whitened with the bones of the Latin warriors, had become Mohametan. “God was not pleased,” says Father Torsellini, “that the holy house of Mary should remain exposed to the profanations of barbarians; he caused it to be transported by angels into Sclavonia, and thence to the March of Ancona, in the midst of a wood of laurels belonging to a pious and noble widow named Lauretta.”

“The report goes,” he adds, “that on the arrival of the holy house, the great trees of the Italian forest bent down in token of respect, and kept in that position till the axe, or old age, had leveled them to the ground.”

*from Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with the History of Devotion to Her by Mathieu Orsini, translated from the French.

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