| The Angels transport Our Lady of Loreto and the Holy House of Nazareth |
The Angels carried the Holy House of Nazareth, high above the mountains and deserts of the Holy Land, across the expansive Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas to Illyria. On May 10, 1291, it quietly set down in the little hamlet of Tersatto, in Illyria now known as Croatia), far from the battle cries of Palestine.
It was early in the morning, when the local people discovered, to their great surprise, a house resting on the ground.
There was no foundation under it!
Curious to see what it was, they ventured inside. They found a stone Altar. On the Altar was a cedar statue of Mother Mary standing with Her Divine Son in Her arms.
The Infant Jesus had the two first fingers of His Right Hand extended in a blessing, and with His Left Hand, He held a golden sphere representing the world. Both Mary and Jesus were dressed in robes. Golden crowns were poised on both Their heads.
The villagers were awestruck, but confused, until a short time later, Our Lady of Loreto appeared to the local Priest and said,
"Know that the house which has been brought up of late to your land, is the same in which I was born and brought up. Here, at the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel, I conceived the Creator of all things. Here the Word of the Eternal Father became Man. The Altar which was brought with this house was consecrated by Peter, Prince of the Apostles.
"This house has come from Nazareth to your shores by the power of God, of Whom nothing is impossible. And now, in order that you may bear testimony of all these things, be healed. Your unexpected and sudden recovery shall confirm the truth of what I have declared to you."
The Priest, who had suffered for years from an illness, was immediately cured. He promptly told all the people, about the words of Our Lady of Loreto, and word of this Gift from God, spread throughout the countryside.
Pilgrimages began coming immediatelyto the Holy House of Nazareth, in Illyria. God had chosen to bring it to this little village, and the villagers lovingly responded by erecting a modest, quite primitive building over the house, to protect it from the elements.
However, the joy, the Croatians had experienced at having this most precious gift in their midst, was short-lived. Three years and five months later, on December 10, 1294, the Holy House disappeared overnight from Croatia, never to return.
Saddened by the loss, Nicholas Fangipani, a devout man from Tersatto, built a small church, a replica of the Holy House, on a hill where the original had stood. He placed an inscription:
"The Holy House of the Blessed Virgin came from Nazareth on the 10th of May, in the year 1291, and left on the 10th of December, 1294."
The people from Croatia continued venerating Our Lady of Loreto in their replica church. So great was their devotion that Pope Urban V sent the people of Tersatto an image of Our Lady in 1367, which was said to have been painted by St. Luke, the Evangelist.
The people from Tersatto, or Fiume, as it was also called, grieved over the loss of the Holy House and the image of Our Lady. A Franciscan recalled a group coming across to Loreto from Dalmatia as late as the 16th Century.
He wrote: "In one particular group, there were about 500 pilgrims from Tersatto, with their Priests. They began their procession into the church of the Holy House on their knees, crying and weeping. As they approached the Holy House, they wailed in their own tongue, `Come back to Fiume (Tersatto) O Mary, come back to Fiume, O Mary O Mary.’ Repeating these words over again, and with bitter tears, they reached the Holy House. On seeing Her when the doors were opened, their fervour renewed and they began to repeat the same words again, mixed with many tears. And they went on with their chant as they went round the Holy House on their knees."
Another eyewitness account of pilgrims from this area, took place in 1784. "I myself have heard and seen them in great numbers every year kneeling nearly whole summer nights in front of the closed doors of the Shrine of Loreto; not content with having worshipped, kissed and bathed with their tears the walls of Mary’s blessed House all day, and then sung their chants outside, and prayed to Her, weeping to remember them, in such a way that anyone who saw the repetition of that sorrowful scene was moved to devotion and compassion."
To this day, pilgrims from that area of Croatia, are given special privileges at the Holy House in Loreto, not because of who they are as much as in sympathy for their great loss.
The Angels move the Holy House to Italy.
December 10th, 1294, in the area of Loreto, Italy (across the Adriatic Sea and southwest of Tersatto,) shepherds reported seeing a house in the sky, flying across the sea, supported by Angels. They reported, one of the Angels (Michael) wore a red cape, and seemed to be leading the others. They saw Our Lady and the Baby Jesus seated on top of the house. The Angels continued inland, about four miles, and landed with their precious house and its Royal Passengers into a wooded area called Banderuola.
The news spread, quickly drawing many people to pilgrimage to the House in Banderuola. But they were not all working on the same agenda. Robbers came to waylay, rob, and beat the pilgrims. The faithful stopped coming, and the house quickly fell into neglect.
The Angels, who had been put in charge of protecting the House, lifted it again and set it down on a smallhill in the middle of a farm. The only problem was, this land was owned by two brothers, named Antici, who began fighting immediately over ownership of the house.
So the Angels moved the house and Our Lady of Loreto, a third time, to another hill.
This time they placed it down on the middle of a road, the site it occupies now, and has for the last 700 years. Tradition tells us that as soon as the house moved off the brothers’ property, they became the best of friends. The Angels had moved the Holy House three times in one year .