Loreto and its basilica

The Basilica of the Holy House is located on the Piazza della Madonna and it is the main place of catholic worship in Loreto, in the province of Ancona, at the end of the via Lauretana. Inside the basilica, Catholics give worship of devotion to the remains of the Holy House of Nazareth, where Jesus lived. To this famous shrine is linked the devotion to Mary, mother of Jesus, who represents the cultural and historical iconography of the Lauretana Virgin, patron of aviation. This basilica is one of the most important and most visited Marian shrines of the Catholic world; many characters and saints visited it, including saint Camilla from Varano, saint Therese from Lisieux, saint Gianna Beretta Molla; among the popes who visited the basilica there are Pope John XXIII, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

The history of the shrine begins on December 10, 1294, with the arrival of the house inhabited by the family of the Virgin Mary of Nazareth and where the Virgin Mary received the announcement of the miraculous birth of Jesus. At first the precious relic was elevated and covered with a vault and soon after surrounded by arcades, then by a church and finally by the current basilica. In 1468, for the will of the bishop of Recanati, Nicholas de Astis (i.e. Nicholas dall'Aste) from Forlì, began to work on the building of the great temple, both to protect the Holy House and to accommodate the large crowd of pilgrims (that kept growing) come to visit it. The bishop already died the following year, in 1469, and it was Pope Paul II that made pursuing the works, because, when in 1464, still a cardinal, he came in visit in Loreto and he was miraculously healed by the Madonna. In 1587, with the addition of the façade, the basilica could be considered finally concluded. In 1604 a contest was announced for the decoration of the Treasure Room and it was won by the Pomarancio, which prevailed on Caravaggio, Guido Reni and Lionello Spada. The room was fully decorated by 1610, then the Pomarancio dealt with the dome frescoes, almost completely lost. Almost simultaneously Francesco Selva was decorating with stuccoes the Atrium of the Sacristy and Tiburzio Vergelli was realizing, between 1600 and 1607, the majestic baptistery, that still nowadays can be admired in the first chapel to the left of the basilica. To complete all the works, between 1604 and 1614, Carlo Maderno with the help of his uncle Giovanni Fontana realized the fountain that adorns the square of the Sanctuary.

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