In 1920, aviation experts and pioneers asked Pope Benedict XV to bless their work and the skies. He obliged – after all, if Our Lady was the delight of mariners, she should certainly be patroness of air fare – and declared patronage of the skies to Our Lady of Loreto. This title, coming from the house in which Mary grew up (and where the Annunciation likely occurred), was highlighted in prayer again by Pope Benedict XVI 90 years later:
“God, who by the mystery of the incarnation mercifully consecrated the dwelling-place of the blessed Virgin Mary, and wondrously transferred it to the heart of your Church; we beg you to pour out your blessing on these airplanes, so that all who fly in them may, under the protection of the Blessed Virgin, happily reach their destination and then safely return home…”
“Wondrously transferred it to the heart of your Church”?
You read that correctly – this house has been mysteriously relocated!
The Holy House might be in Italy today, but the Holy House was originally nestled in Nazareth, Israel, among about three hundred of Mary’s closest neighbors. On December 10th, 1294, it appeared in the territory of the Loreta nobility in the wooded location Recanati. But how in the world does one transport a whole house, intact, from one location to another?
In the aftermath of the Ninth Crusade, Christian forces in the Holy Land were defeated with a siege – the Siege of Acre, as it’s now known. The area fell under Muslim control in 1291.
Conquests of the Holy Land typically meant razing old buildings and raising new ones, but it seemed there were other plans for the Holy House. Historical evidence appeared in 1900 that a merchant family, the Angelis, saved the bricks of the house so it wouldn’t be destroyed. But popular tradition has a conclusion that’s slightly more miraculous than well-timed shipping. At the onset of the invasion, the house was lifted by a crowd of angels and moved out of the Holy Land!
Whether the Holy House appeared in Recanati by divine skyway or by treacherous sea may be a mystery – but the devotion that followed Mary’s home all the way to Italy speaks volumes!
Loreto became a city in 1586 and its church, created shortly after the Holy House’s arrival, became a basilica in 1728. The altar within the House itself shares an inscription with its location in Nazareth: “here the Word became flesh”, reminding everyone who sets food in the space that Mary gave her Fiat to God within its walls.
The Litany of Mary sprouted from this place, which Pope Benedict XVI called second-best to reflect upon the Lord’s Incarnation. It was formally approved in 1587 by Pope Sixtus V and has grown our understanding of the Blessed Mother and her different titles – including additions like Queen of Peace (1917), Mother of Mercy, and Comfort of Migrants (2020).
No matter your travels – by sea, air, or car – Our Lady of Loreto has you covered. As patroness of pilots, flight attendants, and aviation, you can rest assured that wherever you are, Our Lady’s there too – even if it’s thousands of feet off the ground!
Our Lady is celebrated under many names, from popular apparitions to small-town titles. Each reveal something different about the Blessed Mother to us – and affirms what we already know of her love and intercessory power! Deepen your devotion to Our Lady with Miracles, Mysteries, & Mary, a monthly collection of stories, Church teaching, and reflections, guaranteed to expand your knowledge of Our Blessed Mother. Check out our archive page to catch up on our year of Our Lady!