Our Lady of Loreto and St. Josemaria Escriva
“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. The basilica holds what is believed to be the house of the Holy Family of Nazareth. It also believed to be the house in which Mary was born and raised and the site of the Annunciation. In order to protect the house from various invasions throughout the centuries, it is believed that it was miraculously carried by angels from Nazareth to Croatia and then finally to Italy. The miraculous image of Our Lady of Loreto is enshrined inside the Holy House.
Our Lady of Loreto is also well-known among the faithful because of the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Litany is also known as the Litany of Loreto having been named after its place of origin, the Shrine of Our Lady of Loreto, where it was known to be recited as early as 1558.
St. Josemaria Escriva made a pilgrimage 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 great time of need. The 1940s and 50s were years of profound suffering for St. Josemaria because of the 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 feast of Our Lady of Loreto (December 10) 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.”