Loreto, Italy (1291)

In Loreto, Italy, a small house enclosed in a grand basilica is believed to be the house where the Virgin Mary lived and raised Jesus.  On May 12th of 1291, the angels moved the house to a small town named Tersatto in Croatia.  Very early in the morning the neighbors discovered it, and they were astonished to see this house without a foundation.  They could not explain how it arrived there.  Some days later, the Virgin Mary appeared to a priest of that place and explained to him where the house came from.  She said,

picture #1: Angels lift Mary's childhood home high into the air
picture #1: Angels lift Mary’s childhood home high into the air

“You should know that the house that was recently brought to your land is the same house in which I was born and grew up.  Here, in the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel, I conceived the Creator of all things.  Here, the Word became flesh.  The altar that was moved with the house was consecrated by Peter, the Prince of the Apostles.  This house has come from Nazareth to your land by the power of God for whom nothing is impossible.  Now, so that you can give a testimony of this, be healed.  Your unexpected and sudden healing will confirm the truth that I have declared to you today.”

picture #2: There were witnesses to the home's flight overhead
picture #2: There were witnesses to the home’s flight overhead

The priest who had been sick for a long time was healed immediately and announced to the people about the miracle that had occurred.  Pilgrimages to the Holy House began. The residents of this small town built a simple building over the Holy House to protect it from the elements of nature.

picture #3: Mary and Jesus sit on top of the flying house
picture #3: Mary and Jesus sit on top of the flying house

After the three years and seven months, the house disappeared from Tersatto on the night of December 10, 1294 — never to return again.  On that same day of December 10, some shepherds in the region of Loreto, Italy reported to have seen a house flying over the ocean, held by angels.  There was an angel dressed with a red cape (St. Michael) who directed the others; the Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus were seated on the house.  The angels lowered the house on the place named Banderuola.  Many arrived to visit this holy house, but there were also some who went to mug the pilgrims.  For this reason, people stopped going there, and the house was again moved by the angels to a hill in the middle of a farm.  The Holy House would not remain there for much longer either.  The farm belonged to two brothers who began to argue over who was the owner of the house.

picture #5: Our Lady of Flight
picture #5: Our Lady of Flight

For a third time the house was moved to another hill, placing it in the middle of the path.  This is the place that it has occupied for 700 years.  The residents of Recanati and Loreto truly did not know the story of the Holy House; they only knew of the miracles that took place there. Two years later, the Virgin Mary appeared to a hermit named Paul, and she told him the origin and the history of the Holy House:

picture #6: Inside the Virgin's home where an altar was placed
picture #6: Inside the Virgin’s home where an altar was placed

“It was kept in the city of Nazareth until — with the permission of God — those who honored this house were thrown out by the enemies.  Since it was no longer honored and it was in danger of being profaned, my Son wanted to transfer it from Nazareth to Yugoslavia and from there to your land.”

picture #7: Inside Mary's house, looking at the back half
picture #7: Inside Mary’s house, looking at the back half

Paul then told this story to the townspeople and they began a process to verify the authenticity of the house.  They first went to Tersatto and later to Nazareth.  All of the descriptions of the interior elements and other details correlated.  In Nazareth they discovered that it truly was the house of the Virgin Mary.  The measurements of its foundation (left behind) were exactly the same as those of the little house in Loreto.

picture #8: Mary's home interior, showing a protective ceiling added
picture #8: Mary’s home interior, showing a protective ceiling added

A story recounts that the Bishop of Portugal visited the Holy House and wanted to take a stone to build a church in honor of the Virgin of Loreto.  The Pope gave him permission, so the Bishop sent his secretary to remove the stone and take it back with him.  The Bishop suddenly became sick — and when his secretary arrived, the Bishop was almost dead.  The Bishop asked a few religious sisters to pray for him and, some days later, he received this message, “Our Lady says: ‘If the Bishop wants to recover, he should return to the Virgin Mary what he has taken from her’.”  The secretary and Bishop were astonished about this since no one had known about the stone being taken from the Holy House.  The secretary departed immediately to Loreto with the stone.  When the secretary returned, the Bishop had been completely healed.  For this reason, over the centuries, the Popes have prohibited the removal of any part of the Holy House under threat of ex-communication. (127)(128)

picture #9: Protective outer structure that houses the little home
picture #9: Protective outer structure that houses the little home

In 1920, Pope Benedict XV declared Our Lady of Loreto as patroness of pilots.  Seven years later, her medal hung on board Charles Lindbergh’s plane on his famous flight across the Atlantic Ocean.  He stated that the medal’s rapping against the control panel woke him when he fell asleep at the controls – thus saving his life. (67:20)

 

 

Scutari, Albania / Genazzano, Italy (1467)

With the death of the last great Albanian leader in January of 1467, the Turkish army poured into Albania, occupying all its fortresses, cities and provinces with the exception of Scutari, in the north of the country.  However, the city’s capacity to resist was limited, and its capture was expected at any moment.  With its fall, Christian Albania would be defeated.  Faced with this prospect, those who wished to practice their faith in Christian lands began a sad exodus.  Two men named Giorgio and De Sclavis also studied the possibility of fleeing, but something kept them in Scutari, near the church with the miraculous painting.  In this church the faithful Christians venerated an eggshell-thin fresco of Our Lady which had mysteriously descended from the heavens two hundred years before.  According to tradition, it had come from the east.  Having poured out innumerable graces over the whole population, its church became the principal center of pilgrimage in Albania.  Their great Albanian leader, himself, had visited this shrine more than once to ardently ask Our Lady for victory in battle.  Now the shrine was threatened with imminent destruction and profanation.

picture #1: The eggshell thin picture of Blessed Mary and Jesus
picture #1: The eggshell thin picture of Blessed Mary and Jesus

The two Albanians were torn by the idea of leaving the great treasure of Albania in the hands of the enemy in order to flee the Turkish terror.  In their perplexity, they went to the old church to ask their Blessed Mother for the good counsel they needed.  That night, the Virgin Mary inspired both of them in their sleep.  She commanded them to prepare to leave their country, adding that the miraculous fresco was also going to leave Scutari for another country to escape profanation at the hands of the Turks.  Finally, she ordered them to follow the painting wherever it went.

The next morning, the two friends went to the shrine.  Suddenly, they saw the picture detach itself from the wall on which it had hung.  Leaving its niche, it hovered for a moment and was then suddenly wrapped in a white cloud through which the image continued to be visible.  The painting left the church and floated out of Scutari.  It traveled slowly through the air at a considerable altitude and advanced in the direction of the Adriatic Sea at a speed that allowed the two walkers to follow.  After covering some twenty-four miles, they reached the coast.

picture #2: The two men follow the flying picture across the seas to Italy
picture #2: The two men follow the flying picture across the seas to Italy

Without stopping, the picture left the land and advanced over the waters of the Adriatic Sea while the faithful Giorgio and De Sclavis continued to follow, walking on the waves.  When night would fall, the mysterious cloud, which had protected them with its shade from the heat of the sun during the day, guided them by night with light, like the column of fire in the desert that guided the Jews in their exodus from Egypt.

picture #3: The ancient gates of Genazzano, Italy
picture #3: The ancient gates of Genazzano, Italy

They traveled day and night until they reached the Italian coast.  There, they continued following the miraculous picture, climbing mountains, fording rivers and passing through valleys.  Finally, they reached the vast plain of Lazio from where they could see the towers and domes of Rome.  Upon reaching the gates of the city, the cloud suddenly disappeared before their disappointed eyes.  Giorgio and De Sclavis began to search the city, going from church to church, asking if the painting had descended there.  All their attempts to find the painting failed, and the Romans disregarded these two foreigners with their strange and incredible tale.

Meanwhile, in Genazzano, a charming medieval town about thirty miles south of Rome, financial difficulties had prevented the necessary and urgent restoration of the ancient temple there.  Petruccia de Nocera had been left a modest fortune following the death of her husband in 1436.  Living alone, she dedicated most of her time to prayer and services in the church of the Mother of Good Counsel.  It grieved her to see the deplorable state of the sacred premises of the attached ancient chapel, and she prayed fervently that they would be restored.  Finally, she resolved to take the initiative.  After obtaining permission from the friars, she donated her goods to initiate the restoration in the hope that others would help complete it once it was commenced.

picture #4: The old city of Genazzano where the picture flew
picture #4: The old city of Genazzano where the picture flew

Petruccia, who was already eighty years old, found that her generous offering was scarcely enough to complete the first phase of the new construction of the chapel.  To make matters worse, no one came forth to help.  To her dismay, the building had hardly risen three feet when construction came to a halt due to lack of resources.

On April 25, 1467, the feast day of the city’s patron, Saint Mark, a solemn celebration began with Mass.  It was Saturday, and the crowd began to gather in front of the church of the Mother of Good Counsel.  The only discrepant note in the celebration was the unfinished work of Petruccia’s ancient chapel.  At about four in the afternoon, everyone heard the chords of a beautiful melody that seemed to come from heaven.  The people looked up toward the towers of the churches and saw a white cloud that shone with a thousand luminous rays; it gradually neared the stupefied crowd to the sound of an exceptionally beautiful melody.  The cloud descended on the church of the Mother of Good Counsel and poised over the wall of the unfinished chapel of Saint Biagio, which Petruccia had started.

picture #5: Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Genazzano
picture #5: Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Genazzano

Suddenly, the bells of the old tower began to ring by themselves, and the other bells of the town rang miraculously in unison.  The rays that emanated from the little cloud faded away, and the cloud itself gradually vanished, revealing a beautiful object to the enchanted gaze of the spectators.  It was a painting that represented Our Lady tenderly holding her Divine Son in her arms.  Almost immediately, the Virgin Mary began to cure the sick and grant countless consolations, the memory of which was recorded for posterity by the local ecclesiastical authority.

picture #6: Inside the church where the picture now hangs
picture #6: Inside the church where the picture now hangs

Shortly thereafter, amazing news came to Rome: a picture of Our Lady had appeared in the skies of Genazzano to the sound of beautiful music and had come to rest over the wall of a church that was being rebuilt.  The two Albanians rushed to find their country’s beloved treasure miraculously suspended in the air next to the wall of the chapel where it remains to this day.  Although some inhabitants found the strangers’ story difficult to believe, careful investigation later proved that the two were telling the truth, and that the image was indeed the same one that had graced the shrine in Scutari for two hundred years.  This miraculous painting had made the incredible journey, carried by the angels, upon the request and direction of the Blessed Virgin as foretold to these two devoted gentlemen.