St. Josemaria Escriva: A Pilgrim at Loreto
“I noticed that above the altar in that holy house, which tradition says was the home of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, these words were written: Here the Word was made flesh. Here, on a bit of the earth on which we live, in a house built by men, God dwelt.”
St. Josemaria Escriva
Christ Is Passing By, no. 12
Since the fourteenth century, pilgrims have made their way to the Shrine of Our Lady of Loreto at the Basilica of the Holy House in Loreto, Italy. St. Josemaria Escriva went to Loreto for the first time in January 1948. He considered himself especially indebted to Our Lady of Loreto for a very particular reason: she had heard his prayer in a time of acute need. The 1940s and 50s were years of great suffering for St. Josemaria because of misunderstandings and conflicts he endured to establish and expand Opus Dei. Amidst all these difficulties he decided to go to Loreto to place himself under our Lady’s protection and to consecrate Opus Dei to her.
St. Josemaria visited the Holy House of Nazareth on seven more occasions: August 14, 1951; November 7, 1953; May 12, 1955; May 8, 1960; April 22, 1969; May 8, 1969; and the last one on April 22, 1971. On December 9, 1973, he said, “I think that all the representations, all the names, all the invocations given by Christians to the Virgin Mary, are wonderful. But in Loreto I am especially indebted to our Lady.”
On October 7, 2019, Pope Francis approved adding the December 10 feast of Our Lady of Loreto to all calendars and liturgical books for the celebration of the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours. The decree published by the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments explains that putting the celebration of the feast day on the universal calendar “will help all people, especially families, youth and religious to imitate the virtues of the perfect disciple of the Gospel, the Virgin Mother, who, in conceiving the head of the Church also accepted us as her own.”