BETWEEN WATER AND SAND
Faith and spirituality
The Sanctuary of Loreto is famous in the world because it preserves the precious relic of the Nazarethian house of Mary, the house where the Virgin Mary was born and was educated and in which the Archangel Gabriel announced that she would become Mother of Jesus. According to popular tradition, the Holy House was transported from Nazareth to Loreto by the Angels in flight, on the night between 9 and 10 December 1294.
The Nazareth House revered in Loreto is not only a "relic", but also a precious icon of an event and a mystery: the Incarnation of the Word by the work of the Holy Spirit.
Entering the Holy House we can read the following words written above the altar: "Hic Verbum caro factum est" (Here the Word became flesh), to remember the coming of God into the world of men for our salvation, in the womb of Virgin Mary.
In the niche above the altar there is the venerable wooden statue of the Madonna and Child wrapped in the characteristic garment, called "Dalmatica".
The Sanctuary of Loreto is one of the most important and frequented places of worship in the Catholic world, defined by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1993: "the first international sanctuary dedicated to the Virgin and true Marian heart of Christianity".
The Holy House of Loreto was the home of the Holy Family, model of every Christian family, for which it is considered "House of Mary, House of every Family" (Pope Francis). The Holy House, with the walls that saw Mary and Jesus grow up, in fact recalls the value of the Family and the importance it holds in society.
This is why the faithful invoke the Virgin of Loreto patron saint of their families and their home.
The Madonna of Loreto has also been proclaimed celestial Patroness of Aviators and travelers by plane by Pope Benedict XV in 1920, for this reason: "The Virgin Lauretana is everywhere invoked by travelers by air, in an embrace of peace that ideally unites all the continents "(St. John Paul II).
The Sanctuary of Loreto, with its thaumaturgical fame, is an important point of reference for the trips of the Unitalsi, the pilgrimages for the sick and disabled persons that are organized since 1936.
He was visited, above all, by countless Saints and Blessed and by Popes.
The "Via Lauretana", moreover, is an ancient spiritual path that links Loreto to Rome, frequented since 1300 by believers coming from all over Europe.
Also worthy of mention is the Pilgrimage on foot from Macerata to Loreto, which takes place every year in the month of June. It is a gesture of popular faith that is attended by thousands of people, especially young people.
Opening hours of the Shrine and liturgical celebrations
The most beautiful Lauretan prayers:
Prayer to Our Lady of Loreto (by St. John Paul II)
Prayer for the family (by Pope Francis)
The Sanctuary of Loreto, built starting from 1468, is an outstanding architectural complex in which it shines the genius of the greatest artists of the XV-XX century.
Interior of the Basilica
The Marble Encasement of the Holy House, designed by the famous architect Donato Bramante, is a masterpiece of Renaissance art of the sixteenth cent.
Probably inspired by the Roman Ara Pacis, on its walls there are superb relief bas-reliefs celebrating the life of the Blessed Virgin.
This Marble Screen was commissioned by Pope Julius II who, in November 1507, specifically sent the Bramante to Loreto with the task of carrying out "great things and ... to draw many works".
Inside there is the humble House of Mary. The statue of the Black Madonna stands out, carved on a cedar wood of Lebanon flowered in the Vatican Gardens; it replaces an older icon destroyed in a fire that broke out in 1921 in Holy House. The current statue was sculpted by Pius XI, who in 1922 crowned it at the Vatican and had it solemnly transported to Loreto.
Around the Holy House there are nine chapels: six dedicated to some nations of Europe, which participated, even economically, to their decoration and a frescoed thanks to the offers of American Catholics in English. They are an interesting example of purist and veristic art of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and confirm the international vocation of the Lauretano Sanctuary.
The other two are the Chapel of the Crucifix (20th century) and the Chapel of the Dukes of Urbino (the only Renaissance), the latter one of the most representative masterpieces of the Counter-Reformation art of the end of the century XVI.
In the two side aisles of the Basilica there are twelve chapels. you are for each aisle.
They were made in Renaissance style by Bramante and were later transformed into the current style by architect Andrea Vici (end of 17th century).
The most important is the Chapel of the Baptistery (the first of the left aisle), a fine work of art created by Tiburzio Vergelli di Camerino in the years 1600-1607 commissioned by Card. Antonio Maria Gallo di Osimo. The frescoes of Pomarancio are embellished on the vault.
The Sanctuary is an anthology of sacred art. We mention some masterpieces: the frescoes by Melozzo da Forlì (Sacristy Saint Marc - XV century), which testify to a spectacular use of perspective;
by Luca Signorelli, author of the wonderful Botticelli-inspired Angels Musicians (Sacristy Saint John - XV century) and Cristoforo Roncalli, known as Pomarancio, who decorated the Treasure Hall (also called Hall of Pomarancio) with frescoes depicting scenes of the life of the Madonna (XVII century).
The pictorial cycles created by Cesare Maccari (end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century) for the drum and the dome of the Cupola are of great scenographic impact. The Sienese painter first portrayed the History of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, proclaimed by Pius IX on 8 December 1854 and in the cap, through symbolic images, the Litany of Loreto, invocations to the Virgin Mary.
Furthermore, in the Lower Basilica there is a precious decorated and gilded terracotta statue of the Virgin of Loreto with dalmatic. The decorative elements are presumed to have been built before the 16th century.
Exterior of the Basilica
Piazza della Madonna is a splendid Renaissance basin.
The facade of the Basilica, which dominates the east side of the square, was designed by the architect Giovanni Boccalini and completed in 1587 under Pope Sixtus V.
Three superb bronze doors decorate it, commissioned by Card. Gallo, protector of the Sanctuary, in view of the 1600 Jubilee. Each door is decorated with biblical scenes.
On the churchyard one can admire the Statue of Sixtus V (1587), by the sculptor Antonio Calcagni.
The gigantic dome was turned by Giuliano da Sangallo in just 8 months, from September 1499 to May 1500. The bell tower (XVIII century) was designed by Luigi Vanvitelli, the famous architect of the Royal Palace of Caserta.
The Apostolic Palace, with its noble Renaissance forms, was designed by the pontifical architect Donato Bramante. It embraces the Square in the West and North sides and houses the Pontifical Museum of the Holy House and the Episcopal apartments.
On the south side of the Square there is the Illyrian Palace, a dignified brick building reduced to its current form in the years 1831-1835.
The Square is embellished by the superb fountain (early seventeenth century), by Carlo Maderno and Giovanni Fontana.
➤ The guided tour of the internal and external spaces of the Basilica with the most important works takes about 2 hours.
The Pontifical Museum of the Holy House is located on the main floor of the Apostolic Palace (Piazza della Madonna) in the shorter arm of the structure, called "Vanvitelliano", because the façade was decorated with balustrade and decorations, neoclassical style, designed by Vanvitelli.
The Museum was established from the late nineteenth century with works of art from the Basilica or donated to the Sanctuary over the centuries and which constitute a remarkable heritage both artistic and faith.
Among the works of art on display stand out: seven paintings by Lorenzo Lotto, the prestigious ceramics collection of 16th century, the Flemish tapestries (1620-24) made on cartoons designed by Raffaello Sanzio, the preparatory cartoons for the frescoes of the Dome of the Basilica of the painter Cesare Maccari (end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century).
For further information: email@example.com
Opening hours: Every day 10 a.m - 1 p.m / 3 p.m - 6 p.m.
➤ The guided tour of the pontifical museum takes about 1 hour.
For fans, we suggest a visit to the Historical Archive of the Holy House and the Library of the Holy House. The archive contains ancient and very valuable texts and documents; the Bull of Julius II (1507) and the Book of various expenditures by Lorenzo Lotto stand out.
The library, which dates back to the 16th century, houses a library of about 6.000 units made up of rare and valuable editions, almost complete to this day.
Visible upon request by reservation: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Patrol Walkways of the Basilica. Made on a project by the Pontifical Architect Baccio Pontelli, they are a superb example of late fifteenth-century military architecture. Visitors can admire a fascinating architectural structure, which opens up interesting glimpses of the physiognomy of the Basilica and the vast and magnificent panorama of the Conero Riviera.
Access to the walkway is via a spiral staircase with about 120 steps.
For timetables and reservations: email@example.com
Full admission ticket: € 6.00
➤ The guided tour takes about 1 hour.
Historical Museum of Aeronautics, site in Corso Boccalini n. 38, hosts a unique collection as it holds hundreds of original pieces, in some unique cases, of the Air Force, from the birth of the Royal Air Force until today.
The location of the museum in Loreto is due to the fact that the Our Lady of Loreto is the patron saint of all the Aviators.
Opening time and Further information on the website: www.museostoricoaeronautico.it
➤ The guided tour takes about 30-45 minutes.
The Holy Stairs (1941) was used since the '50st to encourage pilgrims arriving by train to Loreto, as it is a shortcut that connects the train station to the Sanctuary (uphill walk of about 800 meters).
The Holy Stairs is also an important devotional path: from May to October every Saturday at 7 a.m. it is possible to participate in the recitation of the Holy Rosary going up the staircase dotted with 15 beautiful shrines of the Rosary mysteries, containing bronze panels sculpted by the artist Guarino Roscioli and placed in place in 1950.
To conclude, after the Holy Rosary, the celebration of the Eucharist in the Basilica at 8.30 a.m.
The Holy Stairs flanks the Polis War Military Cemetery.
The great Polish War Cemetery, which was consecrated on 6 May 1946, stands on the slopes of the Colle Lauretano, in a very suggestive and panoramic place. It is accessed from Piazzale San Giovanni Paolo II, along a stretch of the Holy Stairs. In the shrine are buried 1.090 officers and soldiers of the "2° Army Corps Anders" fallen on the Adriatic front in the battles for Ancona and Loreto, on the Metauro river and on the Gothic Line, during the Second World War. The soldiers' graves are arranged on 3 terraces; in the center, on a stone base, there is a flagpole with the Polish flag. On the four sides are the names of the places of the many battles fought by young soldiers. As in the Polish cemetery of Casamassima (Bari), on the altar in the center of the cemetery there is a copy of the Madonna: "Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn", the famous painting (XVII century) preserved in the city of Vilnius (Lithuania) , symbol of the strong bond of Polish soldiers with the eastern lands of pre-war Poland.
In the cemetery, in addition to the Catholics, there are the tombs of 55 soldiers of Orthodox confession, 11 of the Jewish religion, 10 Evangelicals and 1 soldier of the Muslim religion.
The cemetery is entrusted to the custody of the Sisters of the "Holy Family of Nazareth", a religious congregation founded in Rome in 1875 by the Polish religious Franciszka Siedliska (1842-1902).
Cemetery opening hours: Every day 8 a.m. - 5 a.m.