The house transported by angels
In Italy, at Loreto (province of Ancona) we have the “Shrine of the Holy House“, one of the holiest in the world, with thousands of worshipers coming on pilgrimage every year. Here, where there was once a dusty country road, in the night between 9 and 10 December 1294, an extraordinary event occurred. In the middle of the road appeared a house made of stones with only three walls and without foundation. The walls were simply endorsed on the ground, perpendicular to the street, with the corners protruding into the road’s ditch and, according to tradition, it was the real house where the Virgin Mary received the Annunciation by the Angel. This house venerated at Loreto just is the house of Nazareth, where Mary, Joseph and Jesus lived for 30 years after their return from Egypt, as evidenced by archaeological and historical research. In fact, the earthly dwelling place of Mary in Nazareth consisted of two parts: a cave dug into the rock, still venerated in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, and a room located in the front, consisting of three stone walls as anteroom of the cave, which is no longer present. According to tradition, in 1291, when the Crusaders were finally expelled from Palestine (during the ninth and last Crusade), the brick walls of Our Lady of Nazareth’s house disappeared and it’s told that it was transported through an “angelic ministry”, first in Illyria at Tersatto (today’s Croatia) and then in the territory of Loreto in 1294. Even today after more than 700 years, the house continues to emerge without the foundation and the sanctuary was built just to protect the house of the holy family, that here took “Holy House” name. Today, new data, the results of archaeological excavations in Nazareth, and iconographic and philological studies confirm the hypothesis that the stones of the Holy House were transported to Loreto by ship, on the initiative of the noble Angeli family (whose translation means Angels) who reigned in Epirus. In fact, a document of September 1294, recently discovered, Nicephorus testifies that Angeli, despot of Epirus, when gave his daughter in marriage to Philip of Ithamar of Taranto (fourth son of Charles II of Anjou King of Naples), sent to him a number of dowry, among which also is mentioned with strong evidence “the holy stone taken away from the house of Our Lady the Virgin Mother of God”. Between the stones of the Holy House were found five “fabric crosses” walled up, the crusader’s red cross. There were found some remains of an ostrich egg, which immediately recalls the Palestine and symbols referring to the mystery of the Incarnation. Besides, The Santa House for its structure and type of stone – that cannot be found in Italy – is a foreign artifact to the culture and ‘building construction’ of this region. On the other hand, the technical comparisons with the Cave of the Holy House of Nazareth revealed the coexistence and contiguity of two parts . In confirmation of the tradition becomes important a recent study on how stones had been worked, that is the manner of the Nabateans, popular in Galilee in Jesus’ time. Of great interest are also many graffiti carved on the stones, judged by experts of clear Judeo-Christian origin, and very similar to those found in Nazareth. Over time, to make the environment more suitable for worship, was added above the overhanging material, including the vault consisting of local brick, and an altar dedicated to Our Lady. Then, in 1536, the exterior marble structure which surrounds the walls of the Holy House, built by Julius II, on Bramante’s draft, and carried on by renowned Italian Renaissance artists.