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Loreto (Italy)(religion, spiritualism, and occult)
Loreto is a small town south of Ancona on the Adriatic coast of Italy that many believe received the house in which Mary was told of the future birth of Jesus. The miracle transportation of thehouse is said to have occurred in 1294, and since the fifteenth century, when Pope Julius II gave his approval, the town has become a growing site of pilgrimages.
The story of Mary’s house begins in 330 CE, when Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine and a recent convert to Christianity, traveled to the Holy Land. Among the many relics of the life of Jesus she reportedly uncovered was the home in which Jesus grew up at Nazareth. She then saw to the construction of a church to protect the site. While not as important as other Holy Land sites, it would remain a pilgrimage site into the thirteenth century. In 1187 Nazareth was taken by Muslims. Pilgrimages were not allowed for a generation, but they resumed for a period in the next century. In 1263 the church that had been built by the Crusaders at the beginning of the twelfth century was destroyed.
Then, on May 10, 1291, the house at Nazareth is said to have suddenly disappeared. Writing in 1472, Pietro di Giorgio Tolomei of Teramo recounted the travel of a group of men from Loreto traveling to the Holy Land and discovering a sign at the Nazareth location saying the house had disappeared. It was said to have suddenly reappeared in the town of Tersatto (now in Croatia), where it remained for three years. On December 10, 1294, the house disappeared again, only to reappear in Recanati, where it would stay only a matter of days before moving again to Loreto. Supposedly, in 1296 Mary appeared to a man in Loreto in a dream and revealed the origin of the house to him. His story led to the pilgrimage of the men from Loreto to Nazareth to look for the site and measure the size of the foundations of the building that had disappeared from there. The retelling of this story in 1472 served to establish the Loreto location as the new location of the home.
Since Pope Julius’ approval, pilgrimages have grown, and Loreto has been integrated into Marian piety. A sixteenth-century litany, the Litany of Loreto, was adopted for use at the shrine, and it, too, became integral to Marian piety in many locations. The building at Loreto also took up the slack caused by the loss of the replica of Mary‘s House that had been constructed in Walsingham, England, but destroyed when Henry VIII despoiled the monasteries in 1538. In 1938 Loreto was again elevated, and pilgrims may now receive the same indulgences for their trek there as if they had gone to the Holy Land or to Lourdes.
The house at Loreto is made of limestone and cedar. The cedar does not grow in that area of Italy, but was common in the Holy Land. The one-room house now contains a statue of the Virgin. It is completely enclosed in a church building. Some four million pilgrims visit annually.